Illinois’ first all-women veteran honor flight to Washington, D.C. took off from Chicago Midway International Airport last week, and Council Delegate, volunteer trainer, and Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana Historian and alum Carol Macola was among the 93 honored veterans who participated. Carol’s service to Girl Scouts GCNWI has spanned over 40 years, and we are incredibly proud to share her story about her military service and Operation Herstory with you, in her own words.
I was a Girl Scout for 10 years (Brownie through Senior Girl Scout), and after my military service, I became a leader for the different age levels over the years, as well as Service Unit Manager. I have been an adult volunteer and Liftetime Member now for over 40 years.
I learned many things as a Girl Scout: how to cope with changing conditions at camp, how to make new friends, how to work as a team, and how to turn a disaster into a learning experience. Most of all, I learned how to put on my “Brownie smile” when grumpiness would have been easier.
I was a Second Lieutenant Military Police Officer in the U.S. Army, and as a female at that time, with a platoon of 42 men, I was challenged. I led by example. I had to know each person in my platoon. I had to put my best foot forward — usually in a spit-shined boot rather than polished pumps (ladies small heeled shoe).
The same is true for every Girl Scout. As a Girl Scout, one moves through levels, always mindful of being a model for those younger, and always building leadership skills. As a Girl Scout, one knows what is right and what is wrong, what will help another girl, and what could damage a girl’s self-esteem. Every person counts and is valuable. This translates into a team spirit that can improve the world around us—be it at home, at school, in our community, or beyond.
I laughed when I returned to Chicago after my military commitment and referred to Girl Scouts as the “mini-militia.” Like the military, Girl Scouts serve in so many ways and Girl Scouting sets values that are forever.
That courage, confidence, and character from my Girl Scouting years led me to my service in the U.S. Army, and still guide my life today.
Thank you, Carol, for your service to Girl Scouts, our council, and for being a shining example of courage and strength for all of us.
Our volunteers are clearly incredible — you can be a part of an organization that works to develop girls’ dreams, from the time they’re starting their first cookie business to the time they’re getting their first diploma. Whatever they want to do, you can support them. Learn more about volunteering with Girl Scouts today.
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.
Introducing the first-ever Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana Pinnacle Award recipients! This award was created in partnership with our Adult Recognition Committee and council staff who work directly with Girl Scouts.
These Ambassador Girl Scouts are each amazing examples of young people stepping up and using their voice, taking the lead, and committing to their communities. Girl Scouts who earn the Pinnacle Award will receive a pin to wear proudly, a letter of congratulations from our CEO, and be listed in the Annual Recognition booklet.
Congratulations to these Girl Scouts!
The Pinnacle Award honors Ambassador Girl Scouts who have demonstrated outstanding leadership through their Girl Scout experience. To qualify for this award girls must document their experiences by earning at least seven leadership points achieved through a combination of Girl Scout and other extracurricular experiences.
Applications are currently closed, but be on the lookout for when they open to apply!
Press play on Girl Scouts!
Connecting. Testing her strength. Making a difference. Renew today to make sure your Girl Scout continues to shine her brightest.
She’s ready to explore, learn, and create. She’s ready to come back.
Gold Award Girl Scouts are the dreamers and the doers who take “make the world a better place” to the next level. The Girl Scout Gold Award is the mark of the truly remarkable and proof that not only can they make a difference, but that they already have.
Seniors and Ambassadors who earn the Gold Award tackle issues that are dear to them and drive lasting change in their communities and beyond. Think of the Gold Award as a key that can open doors to scholarships, preferred admission tracks for college, and amazing career opportunities.
The Gold Award Class of 2021 from Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana (GCNWI) are young changemakers; they are innovators, organizers, and advocates. Each of these Girl Scouts poured their hearts and energy into projects that will leave a positive and lasting impact on others, and we are so proud of them!
Scroll through to meet the Gold Award Class of 2021!
Alexis T. Staying Alive
My original idea for my project, “Staying Alive,” was to CPR-certify members of my community. This new skill would allow people to act in the case of an emergency and have the potential to save lives. Due to the pandemic, I had to slightly change my project. I decided to start making face masks for people within my community and I attached a card that outlines the basic steps of CPR. These cards can be kept in wallets, cars or wherever else may be useful. The face masks I made were used by members of my community in order to help prevent the spread of Covid-19. It was important to me that I incorporated a new plan of action once I determined that I could no longer safely certify people. Even though I could no longer certify people in person, I knew that I still wanted to share this skill with others. By making the cards and masks, it allowed me to share this skill while still staying safe.
Allie D. From Eigth Grade to High School
My project is a presentation that is going to be put up on Bannockburn Elementary School website. The project gives tips and advice to help the eighth graders transition to the major high school in our town. The topics are clubs, academics, athletics, and some other social aspects.
Allison S. Pollinator Garden
Our church had a third of an acre “forest” full of invasive plants. I cleaned and mulched the area and created a pollinator garden using native plants. We also removed invasive trees and bushes, replacing them with native species.
Alyssa N. Fish Measuring Boards and Portable Tables (FLAG)
I made fish measuring boards and portable tables for the Will County Forest Preserve.
Alyssa S. Gaming for Women
I created a tournament for competitive Pokemon specifically designed to welcome women to play. Named the “Women’s Tournament,” I was able to create a safe space for women to feel welcome and play Pokemon, and also interact with other women in the community. I also created a Discord server for people to join and use that as the hub for women to practice and meet each other and view tournament information. I was able to livestream the event on Twitch so that everyone else in the community could watch and support the women playing in the tournament.
Amber D. Growing With The Elderly
I built and painted two raised gardening beds with wheels and have them to the American House Cedarlake Assisted Living Facility. Each bed has four wooden walls, caster wheels (for mobility), soil, and seeds. Since the residents are not allowed outside of the homes, adding a garden with fresh vegetables and herbs would gave them a new hobby (gardening), some new scenery to look at while inside of the home, and a new garden filled with fruits and vegetables that they can eat.
Amelia R. Prayer Garden
In order to bring attention to the ever growing awareness around mental health, a garden for prayer, reflection, meditation, and mindfulness was made to be accessible to the students and staff at the Woodlands Academy of the Sacred Heart. Complete with a bench, carefully hand painted rocks, and a mailbox with wonderful messages of positivity and mindfulness along with guides to meditation, this garden has been an exceptional addition to the school especially due to how no spaces at the school were specifically designed for students to go to for complete privacy prior to the completion of the garden. Located in the school’s outdoor garden, it gives students the chance to reconnect with nature and to take a moment to destress, away from the stressors of every day life at school.
Anna B. Mokena School and Park District Pet Cleanup
My Gold Award addresses the issue of pet waste left on the grounds of the community park and on the grounds of the adjacent school. The park and the large area around the school are very popular places for members of the community to walk with their dogs and these areas see a great deal of foot traffic. By providing pet waste receptacles, I have helped the community maintain the health and beauty of the grass and keep it free of pet waste, thereby allowing members of the community to better enjoy these outdoor areas.
Aren S. Supply Station
My project was created to help students who may not have access to important daily school supplies. I selected a school that over 76% of the population is on the free and reduced lunch plan. I wanted students to focus on their education and not on the financial burden that buying supplies places on those kiddos. I fundraised and had many supplies donated. After supplies were donated bags were created with school supplies the students needed. The additional school supplies were in a general location at the school for students to access when they were needed throughout the school year.
Arwen R. St. John’s Cemetery Veteran Memorial Map Project
My project makes sure that all veterans buried at St. John’s cemetery in Mokena, Illinois receive proper recognition by flag placement at the foot of their grave for Memorial Day. To achieve this goal, I worked with both the head of St. John’s Cemetery and the Mokena VFW Post 725 to produce a map of the cemetery that has the locations and names of all deceased veterans. This map is reproduced and distributed to those placing flags on the graves the weekend before Memorial Day and helps to ensure that no veteran is forgotten or left behind.
Ashley S. Comfort Carts
My project addresses the need for providing children’s ministry services for families with special needs children. After working in the Peer Partner program at my high school, I realized the importance of having more opportunities for inclusion for these children in my community. As a result, I researched, designed, and created a special needs program for Alleluia Lutheran Church called Caring Connect whereby special needs children can be assimilated into age appropriate Sunday School classrooms to promote independence and growth as well as build self-esteem for these children. The project also included the development of two mobile comfort carts that contain fidgets and specialized equipment needed to incorporate these children into a classroom in a safe and comfortable way. To reduce costs, I constructed several items such as sensory bottles, weighted lap pads, and weighted stuffed animals. The project also involved development of the program procedures and a training program and manual to qualify and train volunteers. After training, each special needs child is provided with a “buddy” each week to serve as their mentor.
Avery M. Distance Marker Project
I worked to support my community by implementing distance marker signs along the path in a local park. Also included with the distance markers is an opening sign with a summary of the history of the town and park. The goal is to encourage outdoor activity and beautify the park.
Brianna D. For the Love of STEM
I planned and hosted a virtual STEM event for 100 third and fourth graders in my community. Additionally, I made a website with curriculum, instructions, and required materials for future use. I aimed to decrease stigmas within STEM classes and courses that lead to disinterest. While instructing participants through a variety of STEM-related activities, I taught technical skills and soft skills like critical thinking, problem-solving, and collaboration.
Cali L. Mental Health Videos
During our turbulent teenage years, there’s a lot of things that can wrong and that can change. One thing that is affected during this time, though, is mental health. When I first started this project, I identified that my mental health was not the strongest and that led to a series of issues, such as me losing friends and stopping activities that I was passionate about. I wanted to make videos to help try to reverse those things.
Caroline E. Outdoor Oasis
The Outdoor Oasis project entailed creating a garden for hands-on agricultural and biological experiences for school children. In this project, I created a tiered “vertical” garden with many garden boxes in order to efficiently use the space, as well as created a traditional raised garden bed. The grade levels have split up the various gardening areas and will include it as part of their curriculum when teaching about plants. Additionally, they will be able to use the vegetables once they are grown. Finally, the garden also serves to beautify the courtyard that it is located in.
Claire B. Little Free Libraries
I went out and built/installed three Little Free Libraries around my community in places where they would be helpful and/or spark interest in reading. I aimed to provide as diverse stories as possible to expose my community to a broad variety of different narratives!
Delaney B. Diapers for Dignity
Nationwide, researchers estimated that 7 million children need diapers, and only about 300,000 of these children receive support from diaper banks. Diapers are an essential and often an overlooked need for families who are struggling financially. Dignity, and overall family well-being are at stake when parents and caregivers cannot afford an adequate number of disposable diapers. Diaper Depot provided low income families in the North/Northwest region of Chicago the support they needed.
Eden H. Kenilworth Union Church Cares
I created a junior care guild to provide support to those struggling with mental health issues in my community. My project directly fought the negative impacts that COVID-19 had on the mental health of youth in my community. My junior care guild provides all types of support to teens in the area who are struggling such as delivering goodies and mailing cards.
Elliana B. Remodeling the Early Childhood Education Center at Concordia University
As schools are reopening this fall, they have an unexpected challenge to address, especially how to safely educate students during a pandemic. The Early Childhood Education Center at Concordia University Chicago has been working for many years to improve their playgrounds but they still had a few issues to address. These issues include having unusable outdoor storage for their toys and equipment and needing a wider variety of areas for children to play and explore.
I created two platforms that lifted the storage containers out of the mud and allowed the doors to swing freely. This also allowed for the toys inside to be stored cleanly instead of having them sit directly in the mud. I also created a kitchen to match the pots and pans that the teachers already had. This created an entirely new play area for the preschoolers who must spend most of their day playing outside due to COVID-19.
Heidi S. Raised Herb and Flower Boxes
My Gold Award involved the creation of three elevated garden bed boxes at a local retirement home in my community. These boxes allowed residents to have an outlet for the planning, growing and harvesting of their own herbs, vegetables and flowers. It also allowed for the socialization of the residents and collaboration of their efforts.
Janine G. Girls in STEM
I hosted three workshops with 29 girls. I did five experiments that related to science and also gave a presentation that looked at what STEM was and other resources that girls can use to continue their learning in relation to STEM. Each workshop was about an hour and a half and most of the girls were Girl Scouts; all of them were in grades 3-5.
Jenna H. Butterfly Prairie Garden
For my Gold Award I designed a butterfly garden at Camp Greene Wood. I did this by cutting and mulching a sitting area and path through a prairie, building butterfly houses which were placed along the path, and built an entrance arbor for the garden. I also made informational booklets to guide troops through the path and educate them about prairie plants and flowers as they walk through the garden. For the garden, I picked and harvested seeds to spread and plant in the spring to continue to sustain the prairie.
Jennifer B. Composting Makes Changes
I created a double decker compost bin at the garden plots at the Lisle Food Pantry. The goal of my project was to find a more sustainable way to get rid of waste that comes from a garden. I used two large drum barrels as the composters and used wood supports in order to stack them and make the barrels easy to turn. Another goal of the composter was to make it easy to use.
Jordan E. Grab and Go Book Bags
I collected reusable bags and books for children at the Lake County Children’s Advocacy center to choose from. The LCAC deals with children and teens who have been abused and the teens are often forgotten when people are giving donations. I collected books geared towards teens and they can fill up a bag to take with them.
Jordan K. “Pop In” Boxes
I organized a donation drive for two homeless shelters in my area. I made the boxes myself, developed social media sites for the drive, and also created a website. This drive was created because these specific shelters were struggling throughout the holiday season during the pandemic, and I wanted to find a way for myself and the community to help out.
Jordanne N. Hey Pretty Girl
Many girls develop low self-esteem and body image issues due to how media portrayals. I created the website www.heyprettygirl.net, a safe space where girls can discuss and express their feelings and emotions about themselves through links to books, poetry, and affirmations that uplift. My final pieces were a self-esteem workshop, creating a club at my school, and growing a long-lasting social media presence.
Karina V. Be Smart, Don’t Start
My project was about raising awareness on the dangers of drug abuse amongst youth. I spent time researching, interviewing experts, and creating a presentation that I gave to youth groups. I also shared the presentation with local schools and a non-for-profit organization as an additional tool augment their health curriculum. My presentation also created anti-drug youth ambassadors.
Katie C. Befriend a Butterfly
My Gold Award addressed the decreasing Monarch butterfly population, and the steps that community members could take towards positively impacting the species. I lead educational classes that taught how to identify butterfly eggs in the wild and raise caterpillars from home. At the end of each class, I gave participants take-home kits which included instructions on how to raise them, two or three butterfly eggs, and a stalk of milkweed that was grown from seed. The intention of including the kits was to not only help inflate future monarch generations by adding to their population, but also promote awareness within younger generations. Additionally, I worked with my local public works department to install a large monarch habitat in the community park. The butterfly garden included several caterpillar and butterfly food sources, as well as an assortment of perennials and a flagstone path for kids to walk across.
Kayla A. How to be a Teen Advocate
According to Everytown USA, nearly 2,900 children and teens (ages 0 to 19) are shot and killed annually, and nearly 15,600 are shot and injured—that’s an average of 51 American young people every day. My project is to increase awareness of this problem by being a teen advocate to reduce gun violence against kids ages (0-19) while helping others advocate for their cause.
Keeley M. Girls in STEM!
My Gold Award addressed the underrepresentation and stereotypes of women in STEM fields. Often, girls are not encouraged or directed to pursue a passion in a STEM field. In order to address this, I completed a two-part project. For the first part of my project, I attended 11 younger Girl Scout troop meetings in my local area and I coordinated STEM based troop meetings. I directed activities such as a coding team-building maze, building platform shoes from recycled materials, making kinetic sand, a math scavenger hunt, and a race car coding activity. For the second part of my project, I moderated a live, 2-hour zoom webinar, in coordination with the Indian Prairie Public Library in Darien, Illinois. Five accomplished women in STEM fields were on the panel. They answered various questions relating to STEM, including their experiences in the workplace and how they became so successful. Through this, I was able to give and provide opportunity to my community at large.
Kendall B. Climate Connection
I built a bridge to ensure safety to those horseback riding or hiking over a small creek. Additionally, I further educated younger scouts and children how to take care of the outdoors and love the Earth!
Korey Z. Bethel Church Micro-pantry
Located in Lansing IL, I created a micro-pantry at Bethel Christian Reform church, where I saw a need for struggling families. A micro-pantry is a small box-like structure that offers non-perishables and other basic necessities to anyone who needs them. This created an anonymous place where people can get items without judgement and donate without contact of others.
Lia P. Community Benches
I researched the importance of social skills, friendship, and cooperation among the youngest of school children, and decided to develop a community bench. To do this, I assisted in the researching, building, and execution of plans to build the bench for a local preschool. In addition, I created an instructional video and survey to measure the effectiveness of my project in the classroom.
Lillian R. Girls Leadership Club
The Girls Leadership Club is a space dedicated to the young women of my school community’s personal empowerment and promoting both female empowerment and discussion of women’s issues school-wide. Girls Leadership Club invites girls from grades 9-12 to gather in a space that is safe and comfortable to express themselves, develop leadership skills, and broaden their own understanding of women’s issues, all while cultivate a culture of female empowerment in our school. We engaged in service for women facing housing insecurity, spent time discussing ways to improve our school’s culture surrounding women, and spent time reflecting on our own self-image as young women. Girls Leadership Club is both an all-purpose empowerment space and advocacy group for the women of my school and the world.
Lily P. Domestic Violence Prevention
Education outreach in schools and in the community and promoting healthy relationships was my main goal for my project. I wanted to bring awareness of unhealthy relationships and to provide a source of support to those who may find themselves in an unsafe environment. By going out into the community, I was able to collect much needed donations for the Apna Ghar Women’s Shelter as well as sharing educational materials and tools to the community.
Lindsey M. Shelter Garden
[I beautified] a shelter for the homeless to make clients feel better about where they are. Just because they are homeless, doesn’t mean they should have to go to a shelter that looks like it isn’t cared for. Having a beautiful place to call home will inspire residents to keep going on their path.
Madeline H. Empowerment Program
My Gold Award addressed teen girl empowerment and was designed to serve teenaged high school girls as part of a new program being developed at Naperville’s Alive Center. The project focused on the development of program content and activities for the newly created teen-led, teen-driven program as well as the creation of a resource brochure on teen issues. The brochure, designed to help teens navigate various teenager challenges, was distributed free distribution at Alive Center’s various locations as well as provided in electronic form for continued distribution.
Maeve D. Duck Deck Construction
For my Gold Award, I worked alongside Willowbrook Wildlife Center to build “duck deck.” These are raised, waterproof platforms made from decking material to provide shelter for the ducks at the Willowbrook nature center. With a hide-box and a hinged ramp, these decks can be submerged in a adequate environment for waterfowl and serve as a habitat for up to 25 years. The construction took about 4 days start to finish, with several months of planning and communication between those involved and myself.
Maheen S. Adopt-a-Grandparent
A safe space where youth and senior citizen members from the local community could come together to share experiences and learn from one another. Events included game night, storytelling, arts and crafts, small group interviews and gardening.
Margaret S. Beautifying Countryside Park
My Gold Award addressed the issue of improving the ecosystem and beautifying Countryside Park. It is important for my project to improve the ecosystem of [the park] and to enhance the presence of native plants as well as water ecosystems in the area. If this area is well maintained, it can impact the ecosystems around the park which would impact the [community] as a whole. This project did teach my community about native plants and the work it takes for a community to make something sustainable. My community will takes care of Countryside Park while I am away. As an example, I hope my community realizes not littering can help the garden and ecosystem flourish.
Neeharika K. Facilitating Intergenerational Engagement and Improving the Livelihood of our Elderly
Many local low-income senior citizens face challenges such as food insecurities, health issues, financial struggles, and loneliness. Additionally, there is seemingly little communication and understanding across generations. I decided to address these issues by hosting a care package event to support the senior community and create an opportunity for students and seniors to interact. Just as I had finalized my plan, the pandemic hit canceling my event indefinitely. I persevered and made adjustments to fit new regulations, eventually delivering care packages to 100 local seniors. After distributing the care packages, I was grateful to listen to stories from seniors and hear I inspired new hope for youth leadership. Further motivated by this, I coordinated an intergenerational pen-pal project to create a lasting impact. I believe my project showed seniors a community of youth that cared for their health and wanted to bring them some joy.
Olivia J. STEM in the Park
“STEM in the Park” are signs that combine Science, Technology, Engineering and Math activities that use the playground equipment. Elementary school children can experience engaging learning activities while playing at Union Creek Park in Frankfort. Children will explore concepts like shapes, friction, gravity, speed, angles and much more.
Patricia M. POW/MIA Memorial
In my local cemetery I created a Prisoners of War (POW)/Missing in Action (MIA) memorial for the military. I also refurbished an old wooden chair for the local American Legion to use in their annual Memorial Day parade. This was a reminder for the community to always pay their respects to the ones who gave their lives for us at the Civil War cannon.
Rachel D. Christmas Shelter Store
My Gold Award addressed the issue of poverty by working with local homeless shelters to help reorganize and remodel their Christmas store in time for the holidays. This store allows people in the community to buy newer clothes and necessities with “Hesed Bucks” to help with the stressors the holidays can bring.
Rebecca F. Small Changes, Big Differences
I created a three week long video program where I reached out to young ladies and we talked about exercise, healthy eating, yoga, skin care, and mental health! Each day of the week I put out a new video I made onto our group Facebook page talking about one of our five core concepts, sharing tips and tricks to improve their everyday lifestyle! Throughout the three weeks I had talked to many of the girls via email and surveys to hear feedback from them and about the positive impacts that this experience gave them!
Scarlett O. Hats for Little Warriors
For my project, I learned to crochet hats for premature babies. I made four different sizes of the hats, as a way to impact a larger group of people. The hats that I made, I donated to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Edward-Elmhurst Hospital. These hats were brightly colored, and served as a way to remind the families of the babies in the NICU, that someone is thinking of them as they go through this difficult time in their lives.
Shaela O. Coal City Community Care Project
My goal was to increase the physical and emotional support for clients of Help for Hope and those in need in my community. Help for Hope is a local food and supply pantry in Coal City. I was able to achieve this by first implementing collection bins for supply donations at local churches, businesses, schools, and organizations. I also constructed a micro-pantry and donation drop-off box that provides anytime access to food, personal products, or other household supplies to those in need. In conjunction with the micro-pantry, I also created an instructional video on how to construct one as well, so that others may learn and become inspired to build one and spread love and assistance around their area as well. Additionally, I built a Letters of Love box, which allows community members to write letters of encouragement and hope to frequenters of the Help for Hope pantry, and help to bring a ray of sunshine to their day. Finally, I organized a drive-thru food and supply donation drive in order to be able to continue spreading awareness and support for Help for Hope, as well as restock their shelves annually. Overall, I was able to achieve my goal of lending a hand physically and emotionally to help those in need in my community.
Sheila T. Little Free Libraries
I built three Little Free Libraries and collected over one thousand books to stock them with. I gave three townships in Lake County a Little Free Library and at least two bins full of books for them.
Sloane J. The Importance of Freshman Year
My project was created to help incoming high school freshmen balance high school life. I talked about how it is important to stay focused freshmen year to be on track for what comes after graduation. I talked about how to balance social life with school work, how to manage time, SAT tips as well as options for after high school.
Taylor M. Niles North High School College Resource Center
The college resources center at Niles North High School did not maintain a list of educational summer programs. Currently, few students participate in summer programs, but I feel that more would enroll if the information was available. I created a comprehensive website containing educational summer programs. The site has over 25 different subject areas, each populated with info and the links to access these programs of their day playing outside due to COVID-19.
Teagan W. Theatre Content Organization Initiative
My project was centered around cataloging and organizing the storage spaces of my school’s theater program. I started by sifting through all of the materials in the storage spaces and separating the useful materials from the unusable materials. Next I cataloged the remaining materials in a spreadsheet. Finally I organized the materials by function, using shelving units and storage containers.
Tess O. RBHS Volunteer Choir
I founded and directed a student volunteer choir to perform at local nursing homes. The project addressed issues of senior isolation, while also providing choir students with opportunities for service. It was a great way for high school students to connect with the community, and to bring music to places that needed it most.
Drive-through, outdoor celebrations at both Camp Greene Wood and the Vernon Hills Gathering Place honored dedicated individual young Girl Scouts from throughout our council who earned their Gold Awards in 2020 and 2021: read our blog to see pictures and hear the story!
Girl Scouts are known for their commitment to service and creativity: put them together and you can get amazing results! Girl Scout Cadettes Olivia, Abby, Lily, Violet, and Kara from Troop 40965 in Des Plaines, IL, did just that recently in the process to earn their Silver Award and assist their community in a very impactful, special way: through hand-sewn “Period Packs.”
Read on to learn about this amazing community service project!
Behind the “Pack”
Their motivation was simple: to help get menstrual products in the hands of people who need them. “After some deep discussion, we decided this would be the most beneficial to our community,” Olivia explained. “We wanted to help people less fortunate than us— pads and tampons can be really expensive, and we wanted to help to make sure it was available to people who can’t afford them,” Violet continued.
The girls then set on a mission to make that happen! They learned how to create patterns and use a sewing machine to make the “Period Packs”, then emailed CEOs of menstrual product companies for donations and coordinated the donations with local shelters. Their efforts have been incredibly successful: now, over eight thousand tampons and sixteen thousand pads are ready to be stowed in the handmade packs and donated to those who need them. “When we donate the pouches, I know that many people will be grateful that they received them,” Kara shared.
These girls are determined to make community service something everyone does, not just Girl Scouts: Olivia shared, “I have always loved helping people, especially people in need. Doing something like this makes me really hopeful that other people will get inspired and start doing more good things in the world.” Lily continued, “I see Girl Scouts affecting change by coming together. If we spread awareness about these issues, we can get other people to take a stance.”
By the end of the summer, these “Period Packs” will be completed and distributed!
Great job to everyone involved and thank you for sharing your story with us.
Create Your Own Community Impact With Highest Awards
When Girl Scout Cadettes focus on an issue they care about, learn the facts, and take action to make a difference, they gain the confidence and skills that will catapult them to lifelong success. It all adds up to the Girl Scout Silver Award—the highest honor a Cadette can achieve.
Happy International Women’s Day! March 8 is dedicated to uplifting the power of women and girls across the globe, who are challenging gender stereotypes and shattering glass ceilings every day of the year. To all the girls and women in our council, we applaud your dedication, strength, and perseverance this year and every year.
Over the past year, we have seen Girl Scouts step up in major ways to help their communities through the challenges of the pandemic. Girl Scouts as young as Daisies and Brownies are making an impact through service, and Girl Scouts from the Waukegan, IL area are making this impact every single week through their donations to the Roberti Community House.
Since last spring, many children who relied on their schools to receive lunch began to experience food insecurity; through the efforts of several troops in the area, Girl Scouts are now delivering between 200 and 400 sack lunches to the Roberti Community House weekly. Read on to meet one of the organizers of this project, Katherine Najjar, and some of the Girl Scouts who have been involved!
Tackling Food Insecurity, One Week at a Time
Katherine, Girl Scout troop leader and Cookie Manager for her Service Unit, came to the Roberti Community House with extra cookies left over from the season and left with a service opportunity for her and her girls to impact their community. As a result of the pandemic, “the need for food really skyrocketed,” Katherine explained, “and there’s already a lot of food insecurity in Waukegan.”
“What started with the Girl Scout cookies moved to these bags,” she continued, and now the service project, which has Girl Scouts putting together sack lunches for the Roberti Community House food pantry, has several troops in the area involved, collecting at least 200 bags per drop-off.
The impact of their service goes beyond the numbers, with Katherine reflecting, “It’s been really helpful for [the girls] to understand that there are so many people that just want a simple lunch. I think that by seeing the lines outside of the food pantry, they can see that we can really make a difference in our community.”
One of the participating troops, Brownie Troop 47764, collects 50 sack lunches to donate every other month. They affirm the importance of the service they’re doing: “It’s important to help people; everyone deserves something,” Girl Scout Vivian shared.
Spring and Summer Programs Are Now Open!
As part of Kellogg’s commitment to creating Better Days for 3 billion people by the end of 2030 and inspire healthier eating habits in children, the company is partnering with Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana (GCNWI) to create 5,000 specialty Wellbeing Boxes, filled with fun activities and information focused on educating and nurturing your physical, emotional, and societal wellbeing.
Each year Girl Scouts across the country come together to celebrate Girl Scout Week, which is observed the week around March 12- the “Girl Scout Birthday”- and is filled with many traditions.
This year we’re breaking the mold and celebrating the ENTIRE MONTH! Frankly, after the year we’ve all had, seven days isn’t enough for us to say thank you to you all for keeping the Girl Scout heartbeat strong.
Girl Scouts from Troop 30158 have been working for two years to make their community (and the world) a better, safer, more comforting place, especially for other young people. These girls took their initiative and desire to help others to their Silver Award project, culminating in the donation of 1,000 “Bags of Hope” for children in the Lake Country DCFS system. Read on to meet the girls and learn about their impressive work!
Hope in a Bag
In the fall of 2018, the girls and their troop leader Tiffany began to call on their community, their first goal being to donate 2,000 bags filled with stuffed animals, blankets, toiletries, and any comforting donated items. The resourceful girls, over the next two years, used their cookie money, sourced reusable canvas bags from an anonymous donor, collected blankets in partnership with Relay for Life fundraiser, and placed donation bins in numerous community locations to prep for their amazing initiative!
By early January of last year, the girls were able to assemble and fill the remaining bags; however, by March, they were unable to safely deliver the bags to DCFS. They sat in Tiffany’s basement until October, and though they didn’t reach their initial goal of 2,000 bags, they were able to make a huge impact, donating over 1,000 Bags of Hope.
“We spent a lot of hours together,” Girl Scout Hailey described, “but I’m really happy with the results. If I was a foster kid, I’d want to have something of my own.” Ella continued, “We definitely learned how to work as a troop together because of how much time we spent. I also learned that I shouldn’t take things for granted. After putting all of these bags together, I realize how many things I get for myself.”
“These girls do it with a smile on their face: that’s the best part,” their leader Tiffany said.
Fantastic job, girls! We are so impressed with your dedication to community service.
Share Your Story With Us!
We want to hear your stories: community service, civic engagement, troop activities: show us how you’re living the Girl Scout way!
Our Girl Scouts are committed to community service, even during the holidays. Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana (GSGCNWI) and the Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) recently partnered up to offer a service opportunity to girls and troops in our Community Service Sunday group. We asked that girls and troops work to create ornaments for patients at the CTCA in Zion, IL, with words of encouragement and spirited designs.
The girls outdid themselves: the CTCA received hundreds of handmade ornaments from girls all over our council, and the patients were overwhelmed with gratitude and holiday cheer! “My daughter, Mia, and I had a great time making them and hoped that it brought a smile to someone,” troop leader Angelica told us. CTCA patient Reopal certainly smiled: “As a former Girl Scout, I was elated to receive the beautiful ornament made by a current Girl Scout. Knowing that these girls were thinking of cancer patients during the emotional times of the holidays really warms my heart.”
Take a peek below for some photos of the ornaments and kind words!
Our Girl Scouts make service a tradition just like any holiday, and this year, community service and spreading kindness is more important than ever. There are still plenty of ways to do good and make the world a better place. Be inspired by these stories and learn how Girl Scouts from Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana (GSGCNWI) are keeping the community service going!
A Special Holiday Tradition
Girl Scout troop leader Tina and her girls know the value of community service well: together, they have filled over hundreds of baskets full of Thanksgiving food for years, and their service has become especially essential this year.
The annual service project began years ago as a coordinated effort between local troops and the Mundelein Police Department. Despite the challenges posed by COVID-19, the project continued, and with the help of local schools and Girl Scouts throughout Service Unit 415, Tina and her girls were able to help serve over 100 families in their small community this year!
“Teaching my girls to be kind and humble is very important,” Tina explained. “I try to [have the girls] do things they can see and feel are impacting others,” even as the troop stays apart. “I constantly remind my girls that, as Girl Scouts, we help people at all times.”
More Ways to Give Back!
Check out this shoutout to Service Unit 596 for their very generous donation to Journeys Home!
Girl Scouts from Troop 71503 based in Romeoville recently were featured on the Daily Herald for their Bronze Award service project! The girls added a micro-pantry to the Romeoville branch of the White Oak Library District, now providing a place for people to anonymously donate and pick up food.
Girl Scouts are known for their allegiance to our nation’s veterans and have found creative and impactful ways to continue engaging with service members.
Since last year’s launch of the Honoring Our Veterans Patch Program, created in collaboration with army veteran, Girl Scout alum, and United States Senator Tammy Duckworth, Girl Scouts from around Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana (GSGCNWI) have connected with and honored veterans in their communities.
Listen to Senator Duckworth speak on the importance of service:
Whether by completing a service project, visiting veterans to connect personally, or telling the stories of veterans, girls can earn the Girl Scouts GCNWI Honoring our Veterans patch and make a difference in the lives of veterans around them.
Read on to learn how our girls are celebrating this year’s Veterans Day, and how you can join in!
Honoring the Nation
Girl Scouts as young as Brownies (grades 2-3) are earning the patch, and these two troops 45713 and 45936 made a special and creative video encouraging everyone to thank our nation’s veterans!
Watch the video above and get inspired to take action and thank a veteran today!
Service animals, pets that are trained to provide comfort and assistance to veterans, can be essential to healing after stressful and dangerous circumstances. Girl Scout Troop 75466 felt they could do good by providing a service animal to someone who needed it— and they accomplished their goal!
The girls worked hard selling cookies to fund the adoption of a service dog, and with the help of a local organization, were able to provide a local veteran with a much-appreciated furry friend. As you can see from the picture, both the dog and the veteran were very happy to meet each other! Congratulations to him and the girls for their amazing act of kindness!
Honoring our Veterans from Home
Girl Scouts interested in completing the Honoring our Veterans Patch Program should complete at least two of the criteria from the list below and share their story in order to earn the patch.
Take inspiration from the stories above or read this list to get some ideas:
Complete a Service Project Benefitting Veterans
You may complete two service projects to earn the patch. Below are some ideas:
Send cards of appreciation
Donate Girl Scout Cookies to a veteran home or program
Coordinate and lead a virtual activity with a veteran
Work with a local veteran or senior center to coordinate the delivery of hygiene supplies, clothes, and other needed items.
Visit with a Veteran
While meeting in person may not be currently safe, coordinating online meetings with veterans you know or in a program can fulfill the requirement.
Tell a Veteran’s Story
Interview a veteran virtually and tell their story through writing, video, or another way! Use digital resources and get creative with how you tell and share their story.