What did you do for your Gold Award project?
My project addressed two key issues in my community: hunger and self-worth. Hunger, although usually associated with third-world countries, is a global concern that impacts all communities, even the relatively prosperous. Secondly, I wanted my project to be more than an impersonal act of service and, therefore, more than just a food drive. I recognized that a Gold Award project needed to be more sustainable than a food drive, so I wanted to be able to do something more which might have a lasting impact on the personal mindsets of those who utilize the food pantry at Pax Christi Catholic Church.
Why did you pursue this Gold Award project?
Growing up in California, my dad’s family did not have the best financial situation. He has often talked about how this impacted his self-esteem, feeling like he was not as good as other people because he could not afford to have the same things and eat the same food. Thus, for the second main component of my project, I coordinated a volunteer event for volunteers to make stickers with encouraging messages and then put a sticker on every donated item that had been collected in the food drive. By doing this, I hoped that my project would not only bolster the St. Elizabeth Food Pantry, but also the self- worth of the individuals going there for food.
How did your Gold Award project make a difference?
An immediate impact of my project was that Pax Christi had just created space for a food pantry and now needed to stock it. My project’s efforts stocked the pantry with more than 300 donated items. My project also raised awareness in the local community that a new food pantry was in existence and ready to serve those in need. Between speaking at a Girl Scout meeting, Facebook posts, hosting a sticker event, reaching out to other food banks, having a canned food drive at Valor Christian High School and organizing a “stocking the pantry day,” I believe approximately 100 people now know about this food pantry. With the intention of this project being sustainable, it is my hope that my project continues to stock the St. Elizabeth pantry and in small ways boosters the self-esteem of those who are probably seeking assistance when they are not feeling so good about their situation or themselves.
What skills did you gain through earning your Gold Award?
As a result of my project, I gained practical life skills (communication skills, flexibility), sought challenges in the world (hunger, low self-esteem), and developed critical thinking. My project helped me grow as a leader because it taught me how to use critical thinking to resolve problems stemming from miscommunication and scheduling conflicts, so that my project might still be completed in a timely manner. My project helped me grow as a leader in this outcome because I had to resolve scheduling conflicts, so that the food drive might be completed on time and as many different volunteers as possible could attend the sticker event. Also, when I returned with a group of seniors from Valor to stock the pantry and review the donated items, I had to encourage cooperation and teamwork so that we might finish the tasks as efficiently as possible.
How did you make your project sustainable?
In order to ensure that my project be sustained, I have reached out to other local area food banks to share my project. My hope in doing this is that other organizations will recreate my project at their respective food pantries. I created a booklet providing more information on my project which could be used as a guide to do this. I also have reached out to the Youth Director at Pax Christi Catholic Church. Every year, the Pax Christi youth group hosts a food collection before the Super Bowl to benefit the Pax Christi food pantry. My hope is that the youth group will incorporate my project into this annual effort. So, instead of only hosting the food collection, they might also have a “sticker event” after the completion of the collection, similar to my project.
What was your connection to the national or global community?
I chose hunger as the primary issue focus for my project because it has an impact everywhere. Approximately one in nine people world-wide do not have enough food to lead a healthy active life. In Colorado, nearly one in seven people face times when there is not enough money to buy sufficient food for their families. Obviously, low self esteem happens to every one, no matter where one lives. Yet, for those who are underfed, a low self esteem can have a long term impact on one’s feeling of self worth. Various articles I read shared that daily criticism tears down one’s feelings of self-worth, and daily affirmations can improve one’s self-esteem. I sought to raise self-esteem through the stickers of affirmation. Every one can use a pat on the back, and note of support regardless of age, income, gender, or zip code.
What will you most remember about your Gold Award project?
I will remember the obstacles the most. When I started this project I had a set timeline in mind for when I wanted to complete it. However, I found that as I had to work with my personal school and studies schedule, the schedule of the youth minister and food pantry at Pax Christi, the schedule of the Junior troop I worked with, my high school, my Girl Scout liaison, and contacts at other local food pantries, I had to adjust my timeline. Sometimes these readjustments led me to have to move forward or backward the next steps in my projects. I overcame this obstacle by remaining flexible. I tried to stay focused on the end-goal of my project–creating a sustainable project that supported a local food bank and valued the worth of others.
How will earning your Gold Award help you in your future?
As a person who usually prefers for things to be very neatly structured, I learned that I can adapt when things do not necessarily go according to plan and still fulfill my initial purpose. Also, I am not one who is comfortable speaking in front of others or reaching out to new people, so this project stretched me because I had to communicate with various groups in order to coordinate food drives and the sticker volunteer event.
Why do you feel the Gold Award is an important part of your Girl Scout experience?
I found that the Gold Award was the cumulative project of all things Girl Scouts. In reflecting back on my Girl Scout experience since elementary school, I think that just about every activity I participated in provided the foundation upon which I was able to visualize, plan and carry out my Gold Award project–learning new skills, leading others, challenging myself, and service to others.
***IMPORTANT NOTE: This blog represents only a small fraction of the hard work, dedication and requirements that go into earning a Girl Scout Gold Award. It is simply a brief summary, which is meant to inspire Girl Scouts to Go Gold in the future. For more information on earning your Gold Award, please email firstname.lastname@example.org