Tag Archives: Veterans

Gold Award Girl Scout: Katelyn Miller, Centennial, Project Homefront 

What did you do for your Gold Award project?

I researched and learned about the homeless veteran population to create a website full of information on this population. This website included resources on the population, resources for the population, as well as interviews with veterans (both homeless and not). I also created a website and lesson plan for the juniors and seniors at Grandview High School. This lesson plan included the video and a brochure on the importance of learning about this population as well as researching and educating themselves on issues. My website link is: www.projecthomefront.wix.com/homeless-vets

How did you measure the impact your Gold Award project made on your target audience?

Measurement of my project can be seen through the analytic data of seeing the amount of people who’ve seen and participated with my website, as well as looking at the video that I gave the upperclassmen. The video measurement is found through more analytic data, by looking at the views of the video, and the interest by the upperclassmen in wanting to continue their education on this topic and others. They learned about the extremely difficult transition that veterans go through. And while the issue of the transition to civilian life can’t be solved without building an organization or through legislation, with the public knowing and understanding the difficulty, strides can be made. As people learn about an issue and the root cause of an issue, then the government or organizations have no excuse for not knowing why solutions aren’t working or how to approach the problem. Education on the population and on how important educating yourself on an issue is when you want to help solve that problem.

I also measured the impact of my project by looking at the amount of views my website gets, my YouTube video gets, how many shares my Facebook post gets, and how many donations of food and clothing items I receive. My website has its own analytics part to the webpage, so I can see how many people have viewed it and interacted with it. As of January 15, 2021,   my website has been viewed by 94 people from all over the country and my YouTube video has 32 views. Through the analytics for the website, I can see how the viewers got to my website and many went due to having the direct link, some came through the Girl Scout Gold Award blog post I wrote, and all the rest came through other ways. This could be through searching for it or getting the link through my YouTube link. As for donations,  as of January 4, I have donations of food and clothing items coming in. People have purchased from the Amazon wishlist link I set up and also through just buying items and giving them to me to give to the VOACO (Volunteers of America Colorado) location.

How is your project sustainable? How will your project continue to impact after your involvement?

I have sustained my Gold Award project, Project Homefront, by getting signed letters of commitment from the teachers through Grandview High School saying that they will show my lesson plan and video to their students next year. This continuation commitment will allow for more students to learn about the homeless veteran population and learn about how important it is to educate themselves. Both these topics are the main issue I address in my Gold Award project and therefore my project will be sustained. As a part of my website, I included a comment section that will allow for people to add new resources and stories as they came across my website. The website will also be a sustainable part of my website as it is on the internet for years to come.

What is your project’s global and/or national connection?

To achieve my national-global connection, I sent emails to fourteen VOA contacts from around the nation. I sent them my website and asked if they would link it to their local VOA website. This way if anyone in their area was on their website was searching for information on homeless veterans they would have the opportunity to click on my website to get some information. In my email I made sure to say that if I had reached the wrong person to ask for this favor to then email me back who would be the correct person to contact. I listed my website in the email and said that even though the project was aimed for people in the Denver Metro area that if people in their area wanted to add to the website then they could do so through the comment section at the bottom of the website. The VOA contacts I emailed were: VOA Los Angeles, VOA Sacramento, VOA Northern California, VOA Northern Nevada, VOA Carolina, VOA Florida, VOA Indiana, VOA Michigan, VOA Montana, VOA Ohio, VOA Tennessee, VOA Texas, and  VOA West Virginia. All these contacts specifically offered a  “Homeless Veteran Reintegration Program” which is why I singled them out as they were connected to the homeless veteran population like I and my project were.

Another national link for my Gold Award project, Project Homefront, is my website’s national outreach. From the analytics given by my website I am able to see that people all over America have seen and interacted with my website. While my project stems from the growing Colorado homeless veteran population, many of the resources and topics that the veterans mention apply to the homeless veteran population from every part of America. Based on the map analytic I can see that my website has been seen in 11 different states, including Colorado. This wide reach shows the national link that Project Homefront has.

In another attempt to add to the national link and appeal to people from all over the nation I added informational instructions on one of my padlets on my website. This padlet gave resources and information on homeless Veterans for the different locations around Colorado. And on the first area of the padlet, I included some instructions for anyone who wanted to find out about the homeless veteran population in their own area. I wanted to make sure that if people from out of state came across my website that they would be able to find out information on the veterans in their area. On this informational list, I included key terms and phrases for people to put into their search engine. I told them to search things such as: Homeless Veterans _____ (your area), Volunteers of America _____ (your city/location)– then click on homeless veterans tab, and veteran percentage of population in ____ (your area) then factor in the homeless number. All these searches would lead people to links and resources that would give them information on their own local homeless veteran population.

What did you learn about yourself?

What I learned about myself during this experience is that I can push through anything, that being able to adapt is incredibly important, and how to express my thoughts. I can remember how I was just getting started on my Gold Award project, Project Homefront, when we were told that we were no longer going to school and we were to stay in our homes. I was depending on the social aspect of connecting with people for every part of my project. Having to stay inside and not coming in close contact with anyone really halted my plans. However, even with this large shift in general life I found a way to move through it. I no longer could physically interview and meet people, so instead I set up Zoom meetings and phone calls. I learned the best way to search for information through the internet. I pushed through the restrictions. These changes even pushed me to do something I never thought that I would have to do: create a website. No one in my family had done anything similar, so I was truly on my own, but this didn’t scare me. In fact it made every small victory an amazing accomplishment in my mind. I can still remember the first time that I added a link and it worked, the first time I added a text box, figured out how to upload stories and pictures. Working through a platform I had never used before I found the successes in a time when I could have rolled over and quit. Throughout COVID-19, I also learned how important adaptation is.

With refusing to give up on the homeless veteran population, I found how success isn’t how you finish, but how you adapt with the changes. With every struggle and obstacle comes a chance to become stronger. I learned that the importance of others growth and success would force me to change and adapt more than any personal reason. The idea that without my project people wouldn’t know about the rising homeless Veteran population in Colorado, that these Veterans in need could possibly walk into a food bank and walk out just as empty handed as they walked in made me change any doubts into motivation. Throughout the summer of COVID-19, overpriced toilet paper, and shelter in place orders, I worked to possibly be able to provide a better day for one veteran or Grandview High School student. I learned that I could work for hours and just have one success and that would be a better feeling than any “A” that I had received on any test. I learned what drives me: the want to bring a better day, hour, minute, or second to someone who needs it. By working on Project Homefront, I found that anything I set my mind to I could accomplish. And by being able to adapt to the changing world around me I found what drives me.

Additionally, I learned how to use my voice to express my thoughts. With everything moved online, I wrote so many emails that I couldn’t even count them on both hands. With each email my professionalism and articulation of thoughts grew. I learned how to balance respect and urgency in my emails and communication. Being able to convey the importance of the need that the homeless veteran population took a while. I learned what were the correct words when speaking about the population as well as what are the most important statistics to include to get the recipients attention. I also learned the best way to inform the public on the population. When creating a website for the general population I had to appeal to all ages. This meant increasing the font size for those with eyes that don’t read as well, but also being engaging for audiences with a shorter attention span. In making sure that I communicate all the important information, I found new ways to group resources and statistics. This made the website much easier to understand and navigate. I also learned how to pass on information to upperclassmen high school students by showing information in an appealing fashion. When I created a script for my video/documentary, I knew I needed to keep my target audience in mind. They are 16 to 18-year-olds who are obsessed with the short and sweet life social media. In knowing this and keeping it in mind, I was able to create a video that would keep them engaged while giving them the information that I wanted them to know. This took many rewrites, but also took talking to an outside perspective. Learning that my idea was too structured and that students would not want to sit through an hour long documentary, so to choose the most important information for the students to know. All of these experiences that I had through making my project will set me up for success for the future communications I will have.

How will earning your Gold Award impact you in the future?

Earning my Gold Award will impact my future because it has shown me how much I can do if I just put my mind to it. This year showed no mercy with me starting my project with the assumption that I could learn about this population through volunteering and speaking in-person with the veterans, but COVID-19 created an obstacle no one was expecting. Even though it meant that my project became confined to my computer, I pushed through and was able to help the homeless veteran population get the recognition they deserve and teach the students the importance of their education. I will continue to use the perseverance and hard work that got me through my Gold Award to help me through whatever I do in my future.

Why do you feel the Gold Award was an important part of your Girl Scout experience?

The Gold Award was an important part of my Girl Scout career because it was a way for me to independently create a change and a better world. Throughout Girl Scouts, I’ve learned how important it is to be a person that creates the world better. Even if it is in a small way such as leaving a location better than you found it or giving up my seat to an elderly person; with my Gold Award I was able to create a change on a larger scale. Not only could my impact be seen in my target audience, but it could also be seen throughout my community. Seeing this outcome really not only changed the way I view my years of community service through Girl Scouts, but it has changed my view on the world I will soon join as I continue my academic education as well as my education on the people in need around me.

How did earning your Gold Award help you become a G.I.R.L. (go-getter, innovator, risk-taker, leader)?

Earning my Gold Award helped me become a go-getter as I strived to change the view on education on issues as well as the perception of a population. Thinking of the homeless veteran population as “homeless” brings the connotation of drug addicts, alcoholics, and people living in the bottom of society, yet what these veterans truly are is “unhoused”. Through my Gold Award, I was able to change my view and my website readers’ view on this population. This is something that I could have only discovered in myself through choosing to complete my Gold Award. By learning more about this population and discovering that these people who have served our country so bravely and so selflessly are experiencing and fell victim to homelessness, they are unhoused. By changing this simple word we change the view we have on this population: if they are unhoused then they can be helped by being given shelter, but if they are homeless then they are beyond the help of the rest of the population. By bringing this change of thought and perception to my target audience I was also able to bring up the topic of education. That even though social media provides a connection to friends and family around the globe that might have been out of reach in other generations, it is still the job of the people and of the young students to educate themselves properly on issues. The character limit on social media sites is too small to be able to provide the full story on any situation, and the sooner students learn that the sooner problems they want to solve can be solved. The emotion-filled words that show up on Facebook and Instagram also come with an algorithm that shows the interests of the person on the other end of the phone. The phenomenon of interest bias is built into every social media platform and to believe that this isn’t true just adds another issue to solve.

Both these ideas were brought forth through my Gold Award project: Project Homefront. These nuances brought a level of confidence and work ethic that I had never had to use before. My Gold Award brought to life the fire to convince people to have confidence in themselves without losing their confidence in others, so that we can face the issues that surround us starting with the veteran population who are experiencing homelessness. And this go-getter attitude will influence my life till I take my last breath.

**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 highestawards@gscolorado.org.

Girl Scout Gold Award Project: Helping Veterans Experiencing Homelessness

Submitted by Katelyn M.

Metro Denver

Aurora

I had always wanted to complete the Gold Award. Not just because it is the highest honor a Girl Scout can receive, but also due to the idea that I could make an impact in my community just by using my ambition and brain. Even though this dream was always present, it was really difficult to find a topic that was important to me and that I could tackle in the year and a half I had left as a Girl Scout Ambassador. Then, one day as I was driving to my job and came face-to-face with someone I wanted to help: a veteran experiencing homelessness. 

We all have a connection to the military, whether it is someone in our immediate family, a friend, or a distant relative. Because of their willingness to give their lives to protect the lives of this country, I have the utmost respect for people in the service. My heart broke when I saw a veteran on the street corner as I drove by. When I arrived home, I went straight on my computer to learn more about veterans experiencing homelessness. What I found was shocking. Colorado has the seventh highest population of veterans experiencing homelessness, and it is continuing to grow every year.

And so my project was born. My original plan involved a lot of face-to-face conversations and volunteering, unfortunately due to COVID my project had to be completely rewritten. Instead, I spent my time doing deep research on: the problems this population faces and the reasons they fall into homelessness. I used this information and created a website where people can learn more about this population and hear from some veterans on their experiences. 

In order to share my learning with others, I am creating a documentary video which will be given as an optional assignment for the juniors and seniors at my high school explaining my project and the issue I tackled. Project Homefront doesn’t just hope to bring awareness, and raise clothing and food donations for a population in need, it hopes to teach how to face an issue and start to solve it through education and action.

Every Gold Award will bring challenges. It forces you to grow and learn more about yourself than you might not have had the opportunity to do without it. The biggest impact working on this project has had on me is teaching me that we have the drive to create the world in our dreams, however we can’t do it just with words we have to do it with work and time. If you dedicate time and open your mind to the possibilities of change, you can build a world we all want to call our own.

We want to hear how your girl is using her Girl Scout skills by taking initiative, caring for the community, and Girl Scouting at home. She can send in her story here.

NEW INFORMATION about The Carla Montana Distinguished Military Veteran Memorial Girl Scout Adventure Fund

Girl Scouts of Colorado (GSCO) is excited to announce The Carla Montana Distinguished Military Veteran Memorial Girl Scout Adventure Fund!

The Carla Montana Distinguished Military Veteran Memorial Girl Scout Adventure Fund honors its namesake and the things she valued most. Carla grew up in a military family where service to one’s country and friendship to sister Girl Scouts were important values. She traveled extensively and had many meaningful experiences both personally and professionally, but her Girl Scout memories were among her most cherished.

The timing of this announcement coincides with the Month of the Military Child, which was established in 1986 and has been celebrated every April since. GSCO is proud of our commitment to military families and will be joining Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) by supporting local events in honor of the Month of the Military Child throughout April 2020.

We are inviting Girl Scout supporters to participate in a challenge to raise a minimum of $10,000 by April 4, 2020, allowing GSCO to complete the endowment started with a generous donation from Carla’s family.

And to help get this started, all gifts to the Carla Montana Fund received between March 13 – April 4, 2020 will be matched, up to $2,500, by Elba Barr, Army Veteran and Lifetime Girl Scout!

Distributions from the endowment will provide Colorado Girl Scouts from military families with scholarships enabling them to experience the learning, joy, and camaraderie acquired through travel and adventure. Additional details of the scholarship process will be made available once the endowment has been established. More information and online donations

Honoring our local veterans

Submitted by Krista Allard

Northern & Northeastern CO

Longmont

Our Daisy troop collected donations during cookie season to support our local American Legion and veterans. The girls worked very hard and collected more than 250 packages of Girl Scout Cookies! Our very last cookie booth of the season was at a local restaurant where we invited veterans wearing a symbol of their service to visit, pick up a donated package of cookies, and enjoy a free drink on the restaurant. Our Daisies loved handing out the packages they worked so hard to collect and showing the local veterans our bulletin board of their own family veterans. The veterans enjoyed the recognition and connection with the Daisies!

This story was submitted using the Share Your Stories form. You can share your Girl Scout moments, too.

Cookies delivered to the USO post at DIA

1,800 packages of Girl Scout Cookies were delivered to the USO post at Denver International Airport on Tuesday, April 9, 2019 for active military members and veterans, along with their families, to enjoy. They are a portion of the 12,000 packages of cookies, which Girl Scouts delivered to the Rocky Mountain Regional VA Medical Center in Aurora on Thursday, March 28. In 2018, the USO at DIA  served more than 132,000 visitors. Skip Vanderbach, Center Director for USO Denver, wrote a beautiful thank you letter to Colorado Girl Scouts, which you can read below.

Making the world a better place is central to the Girl Scout mission. The Girl Scout Cookies that were delivered were purchased as part of Girl Scouts’ Hometown Heroes/Gift of Caring program. Customers purchase a package of cookies to donate to Girl Scouts’ heroes – a perfect solution for those who pass on the tempting treats! Girls learn about the invaluable work of their recipients by taking tours, learning about careers in public service, and helping with service projects. Girl Scouts’ Hometown Heroes/Gift of Caring program also honors non-profit organizations, food banks, military, and other uniformed personnel who are so important to the community.

Girl Scout Thank You

 

Girl Scouts deliver 12,000 packages of cookies to veterans

As many as 20 Girl Scouts, along with their troop leaders and Girl Scout supporters, delivered 12,000 packages of Girl Scout Cookies to the Rocky Mountain Regional VA Medical Center in Aurora on Thursday, March 28, 2019.  Girls handed out a fraction of the cookies to veterans and staff. The rest will be delivered to VA hospitals and clinics throughout Colorado.

Making the world a better place is central to the Girl Scout mission. The Girl Scout Cookies that were delivered were purchased as part of Girl Scouts’ Hometown Heroes/Gift of Caring program. Customers purchase a package of cookies to donate to Girl Scouts’ heroes – a perfect solution for those who pass on the tempting treats! Girls learn about the invaluable work of their recipients by taking tours, learning about careers in public service, and helping with service projects. Girl Scouts’ Hometown Heroes/Gift of Caring program also honors non-profit organizations, food banks, military, and other uniformed personnel who are so important to the community.

Thank you to Reporter Shawn Chitnis of CBS4/KCNC-TV for joining us for this great event and sharing this story.

Girl Scout Cookies for Honor Flight veterans

Submitted by Aydin Hoo

Pikes Peak

Colorado Springs

Troop 43893 chose Honor Flight of Southern Colorado as one of our Hometown Heroes this year. This organization transports heroes to Washington D.C. to visit and reflect at war memorials. A few of our girls were able to meet two of the amazing veterans flying out on the next Honor Flight and give them 60 packages of Girl Scout Cookies. It was a thrill to meet these heroes and send them off to with some delicious treats.

This story was submitted using the Share Your Stories form. You can share your Girl Scout moments, too.

Gold Award Girl Scout: Justine Monsell, Highlands Ranch, “Remembering the Forgotten”

What did you do for your Gold Award project?

I wanted to give back to the veteran community. For my project, I provided emblem veteran grave markers to all of the veterans who were laid to rest in the Elizabeth Cemetery. In the cemetery, there were over 150 veterans. I was able to provide every single one with a plastic marker. For the oldest 24 veterans as well as the KIA.

How did you measure the impact your Gold Award project made on your target audience?

At first, I measured it by how many emblem markers I was able to provide for these veterans. After getting them all, it was about who showed up. I wanted not only for the families to feel like someone cares about what their loved one did, but also for the veterans to feel like there was actually someone there to support them. After my ceremony, I had the opportunity to talk to different veterans. They all talked about where they served and for how long. Some of them ended up thanking me. This baffled me since I should be the ones thanking them for their service to our country. They did something that not everyone could do.

How is your project sustainable? How will your project continue to impact after your involvement?

I have developed a how-to guide to be able to continue my project in any cemetery. This project guide is a step-by-step guide to how I was able to provide emblems to the veterans. The guide explains what I did as well as what they can do. Each community is different. If one of my events doesn’t work, they can always conduct a similar event. As for the Elizabeth Cemetery, the American Legion will take on my project. In the cemetery, each veteran has an emblem, the 24 oldest ones have bronze markers while the rest have plastic. Each year, some of the plastic ones will be replaced with bronze ones.

What is your project’s global and/or national connection?

Veterans have been serving our country since our ancestors claimed independence from England. Everyone knows, is, or has known a veteran. There is an abundance of people who are serving our country. Once they come home, they have a hard time connecting with people and some don’t feel as if they are supported in their community. Our soldiers are fighting overseas, so other people don’t have too. No one forced them to join. They are doing this willingly. My manual was sent out to people in different parts of the states so that they can recreate the project there if they would like too. I want my project to spread as far as it can go. Veterans are a big part of our society, and they deserve to feel like they are recognized even after they passed. The veterans who are still alive should know that there are people out there who do still thank them for what they’ve done. This also helps the families feel like they are not alone. No one wants to feel like they are alone.

What did you learn about yourself?

I learned that this community bettered my view of the world. There are more veterans out there and I want all of them to be remembered. Veterans aren’t always going to tell you who they are. They are humble and it has taught me to be more humble as well. The veterans that I met, want to make other people’s lives better even after they are done serving our country. This project connected deeper than I ever thought it would. At first it was for my grandparents and to pass on their tradition, but after it was for all the veterans out there. I have connected with the veterans and I know I want to continue to stay involved.

How will earning your Gold Award impact you in the future?

My Gold Award helped me gain a perspective on what is actually happening to our veterans as well as how the little things may not make a big change, but someone will notice a small change. The Gold Award can help me in the future to inspire others to make a change no matter how small. The Gold Award has also connected me to the veteran community. I know that if I need support I can look to them for it.

Why do you feel the Gold Award was an important part of your Girl Scout experience?

I have been in Girl Scouts since I was five-years-old. When I first heard about them forming a troop in our school, I got so excited that I told my mom to sign me up that night. The Gold Award was my final goal of Girl Scouts. In previous years, I have seen others get their Gold Awards and make changes and I wanted to do the same. The Gold Award wasn’t just another award, it was a project that made a big difference.

How did earning your Gold Award help you become a G.I.R.L. (go-getter, innovator, risk-taker, leader)? 

After this project, I have become a go-getter. There were multiple times where I was told, that I would never be able to do what I want. When I first started, I did not have a lot of support from some people in my community. After being told in one cemetery that, “[I am] never going to be able to do this anywhere, in any cemetery, ever.” I decided to switch cemeteries. I connected with the Elizabeth Cemetery. Some people also told me that I would not be able to achieve my Gold Award in such a short time period. I put all my effort into it and proved them wrong. My project has spread across the veteran community and in fourth months, I hosted multiple events to provide emblem markers for over 150 veterans. I placed all of those emblem markers as well with the help of a supportive community.

**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 highestawards@gscolorado.org

Girl Scouts march in Veterans Day parade

Girl Scouts of Colorado partnered with the Colorado Veteran’s Project to show veterans how much we appreciate their service by marching in the Denver Veterans Parade on Saturday, November 11, 2017. We believe that honoring our service members is one way we can say a big “thank you” to those who committed to serve their country. This year, we had record 150 registered participants sign up to march in the parade!

Our fearless leader Lucy, Girl Scout Senior, called out commands to the Cadette-level  flag bearers Brooke, Emily, Emma, Faith, Cailet, Ada, and Zandria. The color guard posted seven flags: the current USA flag, the Colorado State flag, Girl Scouts of Colorado flag, a 48-star flag to represent the period between WWII and the Korean War, a GSUSA flag, and a Brownie Flag, in addition to many personalized troop flags and banners. A huge thank you to the Honor Guard representatives from the Douglas County Sheriff and Arapahoe County Sheriff offices. Their team educated our color guard on flag etiquette for the parade. The Girl Scouts started on the sidelines to cheer the first half of the parade and set the mood with chants of “U. S. A!” Throughout the day we raised morale with rounds of “Make New Friends” and renditions of “Old Glory.” When we arrived at the review stand the Girl Scouts wowed the judges with a recitation of the Girl Scout Promise.

We also want to thank the GSCO History Committee! They provided authentic historical uniforms from 1939-1953, ensuring that our entry was historically accurate between the WWII and Korean War entries. The history committee is committed to educating the community on Girl Scout history and traditions. Consider working with them for your next event or to complete your Troop Excellence Patch.

Girl Scouts know the importance of teamwork and also partnered with Saluting America to deliver Tribute Cards to veterans. Each Tribute Card has a patriotic image, inspirational quote, and personal message from a Colorado-based school student. Our Girl Scouts delivered tributes to veterans observing and participating in the parade and festival. This was a great opportunity to facilitate a discussion about “who is a veteran?” Our girls realized that anyone can serve their country and the best way to learn if someone was a veteran is to simply ask!

Would your Girl Scouts like to march in a parade? Join us for the Olde Golden Christmas Parade on Saturday, December 9! Your troop can select current or historical uniforms—and troop banners or wagon floats are encouraged! Sign-up before November 24 to get in on the fun: http://www.signupgenius.com/go/30e0d45aaac22abfe3-join