The Girl Scouts of the Jersey Shore presented 25 Girl Scouts from Monmouth and Ocean counties with the Girl Scout Gold Award during a special ceremony on June 2nd at Woodlake Country Club in Lakewood. Nationwide, only five percent of all eligible Girl Scouts earn this prestigious award, the highest achievement a teen Girl Scout can earn.
In addition to the Gold Award, each recipient received special commendations from President Barack Obama, their senate and congressional representatives, Governor Chris Christie, and in many cases, from their county and state elected officials.
In order to earn the Girl Scout Gold Award, girls must utilize the leadership skills learned through Girl Scouting to address and raise awareness of a specific issue or issues within her community. Each recipient is required to complete at least 80 hours on a project that combines organizational leadership and networking skills with community service. Highlights of this year’s projects include an art therapy program, sustainable living garden, a ‘Neuroscience Matters’ workshop, Hurricane Sandy book drive, ‘Operation Smile Club’, and more.
Girl Scouts of the Jersey Shore is proud to share the unique projects of each 2014 Gold Award recipient:
Rachel Anton, Toms River
My endless love for dance inspired me to focus my project on fitness. Growing up I always wished for grandparents of my own ,so subsequently volunteering at a nursing home allowed me to be surrounded by history I would have never experienced. I taught chair yoga and choreographed dance routines for the residents at the local nursing home. I came to the realization that even teachers are consistently learning and that there are always reasons to be grateful. I am a senior at Toms River High School South and will be attending The College of New Jersey in the fall. I am the president of the school’s Interact Club, a student council representative and a member of the National Honor Society.
Shreya Bendre, Morganville
The project I completed is called the Sustainable Living Garden. My project was completed at Collier Youth Services day camp, a camp for under privileged and emotionally challenged kids. There I taught the kids about sustainable living, a lifestyle that attempts to reduce an individual’s or society’s dependency on Earth’s natural resources. Another topic was healthy living on a budget. I demonstrated sustainable living by teaching the kids how to grow a garden in which the produce is reusable. I also taught them techniques about growing a garden organically. Finally, I showed them how to save money by growing their own food in the backyard.
Amy Bielicki, Spring Lake
My project consisted of restoring a mural at my elementary school and discussing the importance of organ donation. The mural restoration was in honor of Alexandra “Zan” Rose Tozzi who died in a car crash while attending H.W. Mountz Elementary School. Zan donated her organs and helped to save the lives of others when hers could not be saved. I wanted to make sure that Zan’s memory was not forgotten, so I restored the mural in conjunction with my elementary school, donated school supplies to a school that had been destroyed by Superstorm Sandy, and explained how through organ donation, one person can save eight lives.
Mary Beth Bielicki, Spring Lake
For my Gold Award project I created an art therapy program to benefit the women at Mary’s Place by the Sea in Ocean Grove, a retreat for women with cancer. I was able to get art supplies to help implement an art therapy class at the home and to run art days for the children of these women. My goal was to provide these women with an outlet for their emotions and to help them heal: mind, body, and soul. With support from my peers and community, I was able to do so.
Jillian Cavaliere, Ocean
I’m a disabled girl and I noticed that my classmates were having trouble fitting in with “regular” social situations. With the help of my friend, Megan, we came up with an idea. We would teach my friends to dance and act appropriately at all social gatherings. I held the class many times. It was such fun and I didn’t want it to end. My friends are still asking me to hold another dance.
Bridget Clark, Pt. Pleasant Beach
For my Gold Award project I started “Sandy Reads,” a local book drive that donated new books to libraries in Monmouth and Ocean counties damaged by Hurricane Sandy. These books were sold for the individual libraries’ profit and helped to pay for new books and fix damages the libraries had after the storm that grants from the state did not cover. Through my high school and community, I was able to gather over 500 books to donate to four different libraries affected by Hurricane Sandy. In addition, I was able to run programs for the children at the Point Pleasant Beach library this past summer.
Erin Ditmar, Manahawkin
I interviewed dozens of students about their experiences during Hurricane Sandy and took pictures of the community directly following the disaster. I created a book to provide hope for similar situations in the future and distributed the book to my school and town library.
Allison Filosa, Freehold
For my gold award I supported the Pajama Program Charity. The Pajama Program Charity supports and aids children who live under impoverished and undesirable circumstances with new books and pajamas. The books and pajamas that the Pajama Program donate allow children to actually enjoy the luxury of having a good night’s sleep. To support the Pajama Program Charity I hosted and organized a multitude of events to collect donations of books and pajamas and raise awareness for the cause and charity. With the help of my team and generous donations, I was able to collect a plenitude of donations for the charity.
Lauren Margaret Kaiser, Morganville
For my Gold Award project, I have created Emergency Medical Information Cards (EMIC) which provide the first aid members and police with an individual’s important information they would need to know in an emergency situation. I chose this project to alleviate stress and confusion for all involved. I worked closely with the Morganville and Marlboro First Aid Squads, and the Marlboro Police to compile the emergency information needed. These cards were distributed to all four Marlboro Adult communities, in which they are taped inside the top half of the refrigerator door. The impact of my project will save lives!
Katelyn Kearney, Rumson
For my Gold Award project I started a program at Monmouth Medical Center which brought art to the pediatric wing. I organized a group of peers to help me bring spin art, canvases, and jewel boxes, along with many more art projects to the very enthusiastic patients. The children there were both excited to be able to craft and make new friends.
Megan Kelleher, Ocean
All around the country, children with disabilities are mainstreamed into schools. While this is great in some aspects, this also leaves them feeling uncomfortable at events such as school dances. I am passionate about this issue because one of my best friends and fellow Girl Scout, has disabilities. She expressed how she wanted to earn her own Gold Award, so together we brainstormed to create “our” Gold Award Project. My project featured weekly sessions that taught basic dance steps and etiquette. I got high school volunteers to work one-on-one with the participants, teaching them popular line dances and proper etiquette.
Sara Kraeutler , Oakhurst
As president of the OTHS Italian Club, I brought awareness to the diversity of cultures in my community by collaborating with the other cultural clubs in my school to organize the first annual International Food and Fun Night! At the event, students participated in events and activities included limbo, Ping-Pong, Chinese Buffet, spaghetti eating contests, Dance-Dance Revolution, karaoke and even piñata smashing! International Food and Fun Night was a huge success, with over 250 students in attendance and was continued again this year.
Sarah Lin, Marlboro
My Gold Award project addressed the issue of STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) education. By coordinating a three-day summer workshop titled “Neuroscience Matters” at the Aslan Youth Ministries’ summer camp, I aimed to impact at-risk youth by teaching them and getting them excited about neuroscience. As part of my project, I created lesson plans about neuroscience that were adapted to fit each age group and then trained volunteers to assist me in teaching the lessons to the campers. The event gave me an opportunity to teach and show our leaders of tomorrow just how exciting science can be.
Megan Lynch, Manahawkin
For my Gold Award project, I created an “Operation Smile Club” at a local school in my district. Operation Smile is a non-profit organization that raises awareness and funds for children with cleft lips and palates. The purpose of my club is to spread awareness throughout the community through various events. The club has 40 members and has worked incredibly hard to bring smiles to faces of the children affected. Due to my Gold Award Project, I will be attending a leadership conference this summer resulting from my involvement with Operation Smile. I’m expecting to also go on a Medical Mission to see lives changed first hand this coming year.
Alexa Marten, Howell
For my gold award project, I decided to create a mural in the Women’s Food and Environmental Services Lounge and Locker Room in CentraState Hospital. The people who use the facility typically work extremely long and exhausting hours and when they finally do get a break, they would have to recline in a bleak and boring atmosphere. I saw this as a major problem and wanted to create a mural that would not only uplift the workers’ attitudes, but also put a smile on their faces. I enlisted the help of my family, friends and a professional mural painter to help me achieve my goal. All of my materials were donated. With much support and help all along the way, I feel like I created something that is not only visually pleasing but also beneficial to the community.
Jessica Martin, Manalapan
My gold award focuses on the need for a community center in Manalapan. By connecting and educating both the youth and adults and meeting with various groups from scouts, town leaders, and citizens, I was able to assemble and direct a group of high school peers. During reconstruction of the facility, I promoted the idea of positive youth development, as well as the grand opening event. With over 250 residents in attendance, I planned and executed a carnival-like day while exposing everyone to available community committees, plans for the center and the need for a safe environment for our teens.
Gianna Miceli, Holmdel
For my Gold Award project I implemented a dog therapy program in the Holmdel School District in order to benefit many special needs students. My team and I hoped to make an impact on the students’ reading skills, self-esteem, verbal and memory skills, and general awareness. In the beginning, some of the students were weary to pet my dog, Dottie, or interact with her at all. Throughout the school year, the students became more comfortable and began displaying much more confidence. They gained this comfort as we read to them, taught them the simple commands to use with Dottie, gave them treats to feed to her, and allowed them to play ball with her. This was a great learning experience for us all.
Karen Moore, Holmdel
My Gold Award project was titled “Flower Power to Save the Bees.” My team and I built and planted a garden at Middletown United Methodist Church. The flowers were all “bee Friendly,” meaning the bees are highly attracted to them. I had the flowers planted in hopes to help increase the colonization of bees. After the garden was built, I held a presentation at the church for the Sunday school children to teach them what it is, how to keep it up, and why it is necessary. To top off the presentation I had the children paint rocks to add to the beauty of the garden.
Jordon Pappas, Howell
My Gold Award project addressed concussions and student athletes. After suffering two concussions while playing high school lacrosse and club soccer, I realized that many concussions go undiagnosed or ignored by student athletes. I created an instructional video about the basics of concussions, how relatively easy it is for a student athlete to get a concussion and concussion warning signs and symptoms. I presented the video during an educational night at Howell Public Library and featured keynote speaker, Amy Ghione, Howell High School’s athletic trainer. Student athletes, coaches and parents attended the event. Copies of the video were given to attendees and later sent to local schools and clubs.
Kristi Petersen, Manalapan
My Gold Award Project focused on renovating and beautifying the Manalapan Community Center while getting the youth of Manalapan involved in its construction. I orchestrated a mural contest amongst the youth and then painted the winner’s design in the reception room of the center. I also performed outreach to various youth organizations to promote Positive Youth Development which explains the importance of having teens and children socialize in a safe space, such as a community center.
Alyanna Privetera, Manalapan
Horse slaughter is inhumane. But even though 80% of Americans are opposed to it, President Obama recently signed a law reversing the ban on horse slaughter in America. My mission is to raise awareness of the barbaric practice of butchering healthy horses to provide meat to countries overseas where horsemeat is considered a delicacy. Through education my project continues to raise awareness to the horrors of horse slaughter, as well as the dangers of consuming horsemeat. I continue to challenge like-minded individuals to demand a permanent ban on horse slaughter in America and the processing of horsemeat for human consumption.
Marietta Richman, Sea Girt
My burn prevention project was very important to me because I suffered third degree burns from hot coffee. My main message was that 100% of scalded burns are preventable. There are so many ways to prevent burns and I had an opportunity to educate children, parents, teachers and the community. During the month of October, which was Fire Safety Month, I was a part of a fire company’s open house. I also spoke at a school’s Back to School Night, presented a school’s Fire Safety Assembly, visited classrooms and helped students make get well cards for burn victims.
Cynthia Streeter, Freehold
For my Gold Award, my goal was to reach out to my local community to facilitate healthy eating habits. I aimed to dispel the common assumptions about healthy eating. I also wanted people to realize how easy healthy eating can be and that healthy is not about losing weight, which has become an obsession in today’s society, but giving your body the nutrition it needs to function. I was able to hold programs for my peers, and some younger girls, to teach them about the best side of food and the habits that will help sustain a healthy lifestyle.
Katarina Tornich, Howell
My Gold Award project benefitted the Children’s Specialized Hospital in Toms River. I created sensory bins that go along with the children’s favorite story books. These bins allow the kids to experience the books through all five of the senses (sight, touch, smell, taste and sound), making story time much more engaging. I also ran a workshop for the children in our community, where we played games and did activities focusing on the five senses, to give those children a better understanding of how the children in the hospital deal with their disabilities. This was an experience I will never forget.
Usha Trivedi, Marlboro
In 2012, I noticed that the town of Neptune, NJ, which is located close to the water, was particularly affected by the disastrous Hurricane named, Sandy. I noticed that the American Red Cross was the most prominent organization in giving aid and relief to all Sandy victims and I was inspired to establish an American Red Cross Chapter. Initially, I faced several obstacles, but through the support of my family, my peers and my teachers, I was able to develop leadership and organization skills. These skills grew through my projects, Holidays for Heroes, where I collected holiday cards for military personnel overseas, and Totes for Hope, where I collected almost two thousand personal care items for homeless veterans in my community. Above all, I was able to enlist others to become volunteers, to gain an appreciation for community service.