Helping others and doing good deeds has been part of my life for as long as I could remember. My parents signed me up for the local Girl Scout troop when I was 5 years old. I looked forward to going to meetings with new friends and doing crafts. My favorite meetings were the ones where we would assemble stockings for soldiers, shop for babies of teen moms, or make sandwiches for The INN, a local soup kitchen. Knowing that someone was going to get something they needed, that I helped make or put together made me feel good and proud. Twelve years later and I still enjoy volunteering and helping others.
Through Girl Scouts I learned to investigate and bring awareness to my community on issues that are important to me. When planning to take the road to earn a Gold Award, the highest award a girl could earn during her Girl Scout career, I thought about issues that have affected me directly and how I could help youths become aware of helping themselves and others.
I remember the day like it was yesterday, standing by a window in my house watching the trees sway and the rain pounding down on the street creating a stream that looked like a river. Little did I know Super Storm Sandy would change my life and many other lives. My mom packed a bag with clothes for the family and left our shoes and jackets by a door in our house that would be the escape route if needed. Cases of water, flashlights, batteries and food lined our kitchen counters. My community lost power for three weeks, many homes were destroyed, and we were considered lucky. I couldn’t even imagine losing my home as so many did. After the storm my friends and I went exploring and could not believe the damage the storm left us with. It would be weeks, months or years to get back to normal.
As bad as the storm was, it brought families together and we all helped each other as much as we could. Sharing water, food and supplies brought our community together. I learned that being prepared for the worst is so important. I was scared and realized that because my parents where prepared, things were going to be fine.
I built a team of members to help me put together a well thought out and accurate program I could present to youths about “Emergency Preparedness”.
I spoke with a nurse, firefighter and a police officer. I choose three areas to present, hurricanes, house fires, and winter storms. With my team, we created an interactive program, a work sheet to plan an escape route and reviewed simple first aid. I had each child tend to a small cut on each other. The fake blood is always a big hit. Each participatant goes home with an emergency phone number sheet and a small first aid kit perfect to keep in their lockers at school or carry in their back packs. To track how I was doing, I had each group leader/ teacher fill out a survey about the experience. So far it’s been rave reviews. I have presented to several Girl Scout troops, Cub Scouts, small school groups and organizations. I started my project over the summer and have completed 70 hours of service. As part of the project my family is helping me make blankets to donate to the Linus Project and my local fire and police departments to keep on hand in case of an emergency, they can offer comfort with a soft cozy blanket.
My hopes are to enrich children with the knowledge and make them more confident in the world. I also enabled them to give back to their community by sharing their knowledge and maybe one day even saving a life.
To help keep my awareness program going in the future, I created age level appropriate emergency preparedness kit for my Girl Scout Council, which will guide leaders through presenting my program.
This has been a journey that has taught me how to lead, teach, and succeed even when success did not seem likely. The road to Gold is one of my greatest achievements and I am proud to say, “I did it.”