Addressing loneliness among kids and seniors, growing vegetables for neighbors in need, fostering literacy and creating solutions to protect the Jersey Shore, are among the community projects recently completed by 37 Girl Scouts from Monmouth and Ocean Counties on their pathway to earn the Girl Scout Silver Award.
Girl Scouts of the Jersey Shore presented the Silver Award to the girls at a ceremony on Nov. 20 at its Program Activity Center in Farmingdale.
The Girl Scout Silver Award is the highest honor for Girl Scouts in sixth through eighth grade. To earn the award, Girl Scouts must fulfill several requirements, including taking on a community project that makes a lasting impact. In the process, girls develop organization and leadership skills that benefit their community.
“We are truly proud of the impact that our Silver Award Girl Scouts have made in their communities,” said Eileen M. Higgins, CEO, Girl Scouts of the Jersey Shore. “Collectively, they devoted over 1,800 hours toward making their communities a better place to live.”
Here are highlights of each community project and the Girl Scout Silver Award honorees who completed them:
Barnegat Bay Friendly Children's Garden
Nora Ciak, Island Heights
For her Silver Award project, Nora increased awareness of fertilizer dangers. She created a children’s garden that contained zero fertilizers. Through her project, she educated the community about the negative effects fertilizers have on waterways and ecosystems.
Blankets of Hope
Samantha Dawson, Little Egg Harbor
For her Girl Scout Silver Award project, Samantha made 40 no-sew blankets and collected basic bedding and toiletry items for bedtime kits. Samantha worked with One House at A Time/Beds for Kids, an organization that helps provide beds and bedtime items for kids in need. Samantha plans to continue to spread awareness of this organization and take up a once-a-year collection.
Alice Edwards, Freehold
For her project, Buddy Benches, Alice worked with guidance counselors at the Freehold Learning Center to address the issue of loneliness in school-age children. The benches were installed as a safe-place for kindergartens when they feel as though they need a friend. Alice also worked with teachers at the school and created a YouTube video and informational materials for teachers and parents.
Building Literacy One Shelf at a Time
Taylor Douglas, Freehold
Tyler Douglas, Freehold
Maddason Rush, Jackson
Tyler, Taylor and Maddason’s Silver Award project, Building Literacy One Shelf at a Time, focused on increasing adolescent literacy at Little PALS Preschool in Howell. The girls volunteered at a local school where they read to toddlers, built two bookshelves, and donated books. Through these activities, the girls inspired younger students to enjoy reading and writing.
Children's Library Enhancement Through Art
Amelia Petretti, Holmdel
For her Silver Award project, Amelia helped local libraries refinish their children’s book areas with colorful artwork. Amelia focused on the connection between art and academic achievement, social and emotional development, civic engagement, and equitable opportunity.
Engaging Senior Citizens
Mira Shah, Holmdel
Through her Silver Award project, Engaging Senior Citizens, Mira encouraged seniors to socialize with others living in their community. Mira observed that senior citizens often stick to a daily routine; her project focused on working with local nursing homes and engaging the residents. Mira, along with her team, motivated residents through activities, games, and music and brought a positive impact to the nursing homes where she volunteered.
Foster Care Bags
Emma Burr, Lanoka Harbor
Jordan Rich, Bayville
For their Silver Award project, Emma and Jordan focused on helping children in the Foster Care system. The girls saw a need to provide duffle bags to these children as opposed to plastic trash bags. The girls hosted a Bingo night to raise funds used to purchase supplies for ten bags of toiletries, books, and stuffed animals. The bags were donated to The Ocean County Division of Child Protection and Permanency. The girls also worked with classes at Central Regional Middle School to educate their peers on the benefits of their project.
Garden for the Poor
Gabriella Graham, Middletown
For her Silver Award project, Gabriella built a raised vegetable garden at The Barn for the Poorest of the Poor in Middletown. Her garden featured over 10 varieties of vegetables and herbs, which were distributed to soup kitchens, such as Lunch Break and the Salvation Army in Red Bank and even into New York City. As part of her project, Gabriella regularly tended the garden. Through her project, Gabriella addressed the issue of world hunger on a local scale. She was able to feed those in her community now and for years to come.
Go G.R.E.E.N. (Gardens Reward Environments and Enhance Nature)
Christina Morrison, Jackson
Jessica Walter, Jackson
Christina and Jessica addressed the importance of gardening through their Silver Award project. The girls created a hydroponic garden in the greenhouse at Switlik Elementary School to provide a sustainable food supply. The girls also educated students about the benefits of hydroponic gardening for both the community and the environment.
Hallway of Mirrors and Murals
Cheyenne Gann, Manchester
Callie Rommel, Manchester
For their Silver Award project, Cheyenne and Callie completed a “Hallway of Mirrors and Murals” at Ridgeway Elementary School in Manchester. The mirrors, built by Callie, encourage self-confidence and inspire children to imagine what they can be when they grow up. The murals, designed and painted by Cheyenne, feature quotes that describe each of the school’s Student of the Month traits, promoting a positive attitude and mindset.
A Helping Paw Project
Caleigh Di Lella, Howell
For her Silver Award project, Caleigh wanted to raise awareness about overcrowded animal shelters and show ways the community can help, even when they are unable to adopt a pet. Caleigh hosted a pet drive to collect supplies she then donated to local shelters and hosted an information session and taught those in attendance how to craft pet toys for donation.
Leila Montani, Marlboro
For her Silver Award project, Hospital Happiness, Leila created care packages for young children (ages 2-8) receiving treatment at the CentraState Medical Center in Freehold. Each package included toys and games. They were distributed by hospital staff when admitting children for treatment. Leila’s goal was to provide a bit of happiness to children who might otherwise be nervous or scared.
Indoor Herb Garden
Skylar Ballin, West Creek
For her Silver Award project, Skylar Ballin taught her community about herb gardens and the health benefits of adding natural herbs to your diet. Skylar also sat in on a preschool class in her town and taught about gardening and staying healthy. For her project, she visited the preschool weekly and taught students through fun activities.
Insect Garden at Forest Education Center
Hannah Werosta, Jackson
Hannah completed her Silver Award Project at FREC in Jackson. She created an insect garden using native plants and flowers and installed a water drip system using a rainwater barrel. She also created and installed an informational sign about the garden highlighting the role insects play in our ecosystem.
Latino Community Catholic School Outreach
Olivia Ulrich, Aberdeen
Ariana Granatelli, Aberdeen
Lauren Hewski, Aberdeen
For their Silver Award project, Olivia, Ariana, and Lauren addressed the decreasing enrollment at Saint Benedict School by creating a campaign to encourage Latino student attendance. They translated marketing materials for distribution at recruitment events such as the Saint Benedict Parish Carnival, the Fall and Spring Open Houses, and Catholic Schools Week.
Lazy Daisy Trail
Anna Dlugosz, Brick
Arianna Gloss, Brick
Molly Thamrong, Brick
Jordan Vargas, Brick
For their Silver Award project, Ariana, Jordan, Molly, and Anna created The Lazy Daisy Trail at Camp Sacajawea in Farmingdale. The trail includes hand-cast trail markers with informational stops where nature lovers can learn about themes and outdoor skills. The girls also installed bat boxes, birdhouses, and a butterfly garden along the way.
Pillows for Patients
Prema Shah, Marlboro
Pillows for Patients provided comfort for patients of all ages in area hospitals. Through her project, Prema worked with grade school children and taught students how to sew, an important life skill. Through her sewing demonstrations, Prema was able to donate over 100 pillows to Monmouth Medical Center. Through her project, Prema was able to teach her peers and those younger than her how to sew while providing comfort to hospital patients.
Delaney Lowe, Little Egg Harbor
For her Silver Award project, Delaney addressed the issues of single-use plastic pollution, specifically plastic bag pollution. She found an easy and accessible solution to plastic bags by creating a reusable tee shirt bag. Delaney created a tutorial video showing how to make DIY t-shirt bags; the video was showed to more than 1,200 local students.
Meghan Guinee, Howell
Cadence Peterman, Howell
Kaylee Piech, Howell
For their Silver Award project, Meghan, Cadence, and Kaylee, created a pollinator garden. The garden includes two garden boxes with a variety of wildflowers and two benches. For their project, the girls focused on creating a space to promote a healthy bee population. On Friday, September 20th, Mayor Teresa Berger, of Howell Township, dedicated the garden to the Howell Organic Community Gardens with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Stop Sucking to Create a Plastic Free Community
Lily Lyon, Point Pleasant
For her Silver Award project, Stop Sucking to Create a Plastic Free Community, Lily spread awareness about the negative impacts of single-use plastics on our local beaches, with a specific focus on plastic straws. Lily created an interactive presentation that she shared with several younger Girl Scout troops. She also spoke at River Front Park's Earth Day celebration and Jenkinson’s Aquarium in Point Pleasant. Through her project, Lily was able to better educate her community about the impacts of single-use plastics.
Supporting Shelter Animal Well-Being
Elina Patel, Holmdel
Elina’s Silver Award project, Supporting Shelter Animal Well Being, tackled the issue of homeless pets and focused on her deep love of animals. Elina raised awareness in her community by hosting an “Animal Shelter Awareness Day.” She, along with her team, placed bins throughout her town and collected items for donations and hosted an event at her local library. During this event, Elina taught members of the public how to craft dog toys that could then be donated.
The Importance of Early Education
Amy Tatarka, Aberdeen
For Amy’s Silver Award project, The Importance of Early Childhood Education, she focused on how education helps with emotional, social, and physical development in young children. The project also looked at the impact of early childhood education on adults, such as improved social skills and engagement. Amy also focused on the role early childhood education plays on performance in school as children grow. Amy wanted to demonstrate that an early introduction to a school setting sets a positive tone for young children.
The Kindness Tree
Gabriella Edwards, Manchester
Gabby’s Silver Award project, The Kindness Tree, promoted positivity and kindness at Ridgeway Elementary School in Manchester Township. In the spring, she taught students about kindness with grade-specific activities. Third through fifth-grade students were asked to share quotes about kindness; those in kindergarten through second grade were asked to share “Act of Kindness” examples. Over the summer, Gabby painted a mural of a tree at the school. The acts of kindness are written on each leaf, and she added the kindness quotes to an interactive bulletin board where students can read them when they need inspiration or add their own when they feel inspired.
Toms River "Art Heals" Community Mural for Healing and Recovery
Alessandra Sophia Reenye, Toms River
For her Silver Award project, Alessandra Sophia Reenye increased awareness about mental health and addiction, specifically the impact opioid abuse and addiction has in her community. Alessandra educated others about the benefits of expressive art, especially when used in conjunction with traditional therapy. For her project, Alessandra worked with local artist, Yvonne Yaar, and community members to create a mural outside Café Enigma in Toms River.
Water Pollution Solutions
Bridget Filan, Bayville
For her Silver Award project, Water Pollution Solution, Bridget Filan addressed the pollution issue at Cattus Island County Park in Toms River. For her project, Bridget and her team modified trash can boxes, built waste bag holders, created an informational book for the Nature Center and wrote an article that was featured in The Berkeley Times. The overall goal of her project was to reduce pollution in the Barnegat Bay.
About Girl Scouts of the Jersey Shore
Girl Scouts of the Jersey Shore serves more than 10,000 girls ages 5-18 in Monmouth and Ocean counties, providing a time-tested leadership experience that inspires and motivates them to take action for themselves and their communities. For over 100 years, Girl Scouts has helped girls become women of courage, confidence and character, who make the world a better place. For information on how to join, volunteer, partner, or donate, call (800) 785-2090.