What does success look like? A confident shade of Girl Scout gold. And when a Gold Award Girl Scout shares the real-world skills gained from earning the Gold Award—team building, managing a complex project from start to finish, or public speaking, to name a few—their resume sets them apart from their peers.
A Gold Award Girl Scout, no matter their background or ability, learns to tap into the world-changing power within her. She takes the lead in designing and enacting a plan for change and makes a positive impact in her community and beyond.
We are thrilled to announce that Girl Scout Shaela is the Gold Award Girl Scout from Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana (GCNWI) to be awarded a national scholarship from Girl Scouts of the USA for extraordinary action in addressing the issue of food insecurity. Shaela’s work in building a relationship with Help for Hope, a local food and supply pantry in Coal City, Illinois, has earned her national recognition, and we are so proud.
Read on to hear about Shaela’s initiative, in her own words.
Coal City Community Care Project
Written by National Gold Award Scholarship Recipient Shaela
From the very beginning all the way to my current role in Girl Scouts, it has truly been one of forming lifetime friendships and acquiring priceless life and survival skills. I enrolled in Girl Scouts as a Daisy, the very first step of a beautiful journey I will never regret taking. My mother, aunt, and grandmother were all Girl Scouts before me, so it was important to me to continue the chain of strong, independent women in my family. Together with my cousin, I began the Girl Scout journey and the climb up the ladder of learning, exploring, leading, and providing service to others.
To earn my Gold Award, I partnered with the Help for Hope Food Pantry, a local food and supply pantry in Coal City, to assist my community physically and emotionally. I implemented a Letters of Love box for others to receive supportive and heartfelt letters which provide encouragement for the Help for Hope frequenters. In addition, I also constructed a Blessing Box/Micro-pantry, Drop-Off Donation Box, and provided numerous collection bins throughout town to collect needed food, supplies, cleaning products, personal products, and other items for the Help for Hope community. Finally, I planned and started an annual Drive-Thru Donation Drive in which community members can bring in donated items and supplies safely from the trunk of their car. All structures and events implemented went to the betterment of my community and to increase products offered at Help for Hope.
The number of people in need in my community was really what pushed me to work hard and continue with my Gold Award project. After volunteering at Help for Hope for a couple years prior to my project, I was able to see the large number of families and individuals frequenting the facility. In seeing the variety of items they offered at the pantry, I was deeply motivated to help them move forward as much as possible.
After the pandemic began, my passion to help others through difficult times only grew stronger as people began to lose their jobs and fall into financial struggles. With COVID-19 came a wave of unity among people, and I wanted nothing more than to partake in that very mission. So many are suffering right now because of this virus’s effects, and the mission of Help for Hope deeply inspired me to assist others, especially at such a crucial time. Thus, it was the heartbreaking suffering of those around me and those greatly impacted by the pandemic that pushed me to encourage members of my community and reach out as much as I could.
As someone who has been active in volunteer service for many years, my drive to continue to make a difference is something that is housed deep inside my empathy and compassion toward others. I have always had a very strong connection with people, and I have been able to form incredible connections with others by being able to lend a listening ear or a helping hand to those who I know are facing struggles. Knowing how these people feel, what they fight for, or what they are going through pushes me to continue to help and make a difference in the world.
I wish more than anything to provide aid that can assist in making that shadow leave my community and the world to establish peace and understanding for all. Getting rid of these negative emotions and actions that exist in today’s society is how humanity can achieve true unity. That goal of having acceptance, aid, equity, and love in the world is what keeps me going.
Girl Scouting is something that I truly value and treasure close to my heart. It has been such a constant part of my life for the longest time that I honestly couldn’t imagine life without it. Through all the meetings, camps, projects, trips, journeys, and events I have participated in, I have learned how to be strong, determined, compassionate, courageous, caring, helpful, and so much more. I have learned not only how to “make the world a better place” but how to follow each step of the Girl Scout Law and Promise.
I will forever fondly look back upon my younger years in Girl Scouts and treasure the inspiration I received from the program and the invaluable scouting experiences with my dear cousin and all my family and friends. They led me to where I am today and enabled me to make an impact. Thank you, Girl Scouts!
Time to Go Gold
Self-confidence and an unstoppable shine? You’re looking at a Gold Award Girl Scout, and she carries her remarkable leadership skills with her for life.
Get ready for Girls Change the World month!
We’re celebrating Girl Scouts Change the World Month and International Day of the Girl (October 11) with lots of programs and special events!
Stay tuned for more information!