Addressing activeness among seniors, beautifying gardens for pollinators, providing comfort to those battling cancer, creating sustainable solutions, and offering a safe place for individuals with stress and anxiety, are only a handful of the community projects recently completed by 31 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 these girls at a drive-thru ceremony on Wednesday, November 18, 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.
“Especially this year, 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 1,500 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:
Breast Cancer Awareness - Don't Ignore Stage 4
Allison Quinn, Howell
Allison Quinn’s Silver Award idea came to her after her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in June of 2019. Allison has made and donated over 700 chemo port pillows, pillowcases, mastectomy pillows and face coverings for those who are going through cancer treatment and surgery. Due to Allison’s project and working with her town to educate people about Breast Cancer Awareness, the town council dedicated a day to Metastatic Breast Cancer. Allison had the honor of inviting a family who lost their daughter to the disease, to dedicate a proclamation in their daughter’s honor and the family was given a remembrance plaque.
Grace Chiszar and Emilee Rible, Wall Township
Grace Chiszar and Emilee Rible created “Bright Beginnings,” for their Silver Award. This award aimed to help families locally in Monmouth County who are struggling with daycare costs as they re-enter the work force and/or finish their education. The girls partnered with Child Care Resources to supply the Monmouth County diaper bank with much needed diapers and wipes. The girls stuffed brand new baby and toddler backpacks with diapers, wipes, sippy cups, bottles and a few other items like bookmarks written with cheerful messages for inspiration.
Gillian Wisniewski, Spring Lake
Gillian Wisniewski completed her Silver Award by creating a butterfly and bee garden at Wall Intermediate School. She worked with Barlow’s Garden Center to create a garden that would attract butterflies and bees all summer long. Gillian gathered other students and engaged them to aide her in her project. Her project beautified an area at the school that was in disarray and helped the environment by aiding in cross pollination.
Cyberbullying: Put to an End
Annika Bhatia, Morganville
Annika Bhatia’s project was about spreading awareness on Cyberbullying and its negative effects. Through her project, she was able to educate many people on what cyberbullying is, how to prevent it, and what actions we can take against cyberbullying. In order to spread awareness, she held various workshops on scratch programming, art and craft sessions with cyberbullying as the main theme. Her achievements include creating a website, writing numerous blogs, and getting hundreds of signatures on a pledge against Cyberbullying. She believes this project helped in developing her leadership, project management, collaboration, teamwork, presentation, and STEM skills.
Leah Bloom, Alexis Cedar, Kaitlyn Dipasquale and Jade Ivry; Manalapan
Leah Bloom, Alexis Cedar, Kaitlyn Dipasquale and Jade Ivry wanted to create a fun experience for their Silver Award to help people feel good about themselves. Their Silver Award, Fashion Fun, is a series of tutorials for the novice or professional, to create a quick fashionable look that will make anyone feel good about themselves. Each girl worked with their peers to see how they could inspire other girls. After receiving feedback from their peers, they created hair, nails, and makeup tutorials to help anyone with their appearance and boost their confidence.
Garden of Knowledge
Alana Bossinger and Carlie Simon, Eatontown
For their Silver Award, Carlie Simon and Alana Bossinger created a Community Reading Garden, called Garden of Knowledge. Each girl designed the garden and built book boxes and benches around the garden. The girls set up book collection boxes in their library and received many donations from their community for their Silver Award. Carlie and Alana held a ceremony to open the garden with their volunteer helpers, their town's mayor, and town.
Hazlet Girls' STEM Initiative (HGSI)
Blake Cregg-Wedmore, Hazlet
Blake Cregg-Wedmore's Silver Award project aimed to increase girls' engagement in STEM fields. She gathered data about students' interest in STEM through a survey she conducted at her middle school and used the data and additional research to develop a virtual STEM camp for girls in grades 4-6. Over the summer, she ran four sessions of the camp and had girls register from 25 US states & territories. Additionally, she created marketing materials for STEM-related clubs at her middle school to help recruit and retain more students overall.
Helping the Hungry with Healthy Recipes
Jacqueline Gray, Rumson
Jacqueline Gray’s Silver Award aimed at creating recipes that were healthy, easy, and interesting to make, for families that visited Lunch Break. Jaqueline wanted visitors of Lunch Break to use the foods and ingredients already in the local food pantry to their greater use, by making planning balanced meals easier. She connected with nutritionists, health doctors, and the Lunch Break staff and advisors to compile healthy recipes in a booklet form, using the ingredients available at Lunch Break. She has become even more interested in cooking and gardening before completing this award and hopes to have made a healthy difference in the lives of many.
Eleanora Church, Island Heights
Eleanora Church’s Silver Award project aimed to spread awareness about plastic pollution and the negative side effects of dehydration. She also aimed to get a water fountain for a field in her town with a water bottle filling station. Her project made a difference in her community by limiting the amount of plastic water bottles left lying on the field and allowing children who play near and on the field, to be able to have easy access to water so they do not get dehydrated.
Jake’s Branch Clean Up
Lauren Hamoy, Brianna Hare, Allison Scannell and Emily Weigle; Beachwood and Toms River
Lauren Hamoy, Brianna Hare, Allison Scannell and Emily Weigle Silver Award project focused on giving Jake’s Branch County Park a new and improved look while providing an easier and more enjoyable experience for the guests. This project addressed the issue of Jake's Branch signposts being old and unsafe for the environment. The girls dug out the old posts and created new trail posts from scratch. They carved the lettering, sanded, and painted them, and added a waterproof and animal friendly coating so it will be safer for the environment. The lettering and color coding on the posts is neater than the previous posts, therefore directions in the park will be easier to follow. The girls went above and beyond by adding additional posts that were not there before and walking along the trails to pick up litter. The result of this project is Jake’s Branch looking cleaner, more organized, safer for the environment and getting lost is less likely.
Little Free Library
Emma Makin, Morganville
Emma Makin’s Silver Award project aimed to help multiple communities through Little Free Libraries. Her project included building three little free libraries, painting and placing the libraries in Marlboro, Keyport, and Neptune. The Little Free Libraries project gives people the opportunity to read books that are more accessible to them. Having the Little Free Libraries gives everyone the chance to love reading because it gives them the chance to delve into stories. Little Free Libraries gives people books to read and learn from, and to love and to imagine from.
Making Paddock Safe for Blind Horse
Arianna Ng, Little Egg Harbor
Arianna Ng’s Silver Award was focused on helping to create a safer environment for a blind horse. Arianna dug out a path around his paddock and filled them with small rocks, making a stone border so the horse can recognize when he is approaching the electrical fence. The stone border ensures the blind horse will be safe and deters him from accidentally electrocuting himself while playing. Arianna also created materials to post on the Facebook page of the horse’s farm to inspire others.
April Kisthardt, Cream Ridge
For April Kisthardt’s Silver Award project, Pajama Project, she aimed to educate people about an organization that works to ensure the safety, permanency, and well-being of children and support families. She spread awareness about their mission and engaged younger generations who might not have been aware of foster children. She then focused her efforts on helping these foster children by collecting pajamas so that they would have a nice warm pair of pajamas to own and sleep in during winter. She hosted many events where she collected donations from her Girl Scout family and community, which will be distributed to these kids in need.
Pass and Play
Grace Andruzzi and Alexis Gafah, Manalapan
Grace Andruzzi and Alexis Gafah believe that Girls Scouts pay it forward and have used this as inspiration for their Silver Award. Grace and Alexis created Pass and Play for their Silver Award as a social media group that allows individuals to pass their equipment to someone in need. Both girls have siblings who play in various activities and this was a direct solution to issues that affected not only their community, but their own families directly. The girls created a system where any sports, dance, music equipment that a family may not need, can be passed along to another family. They also believe that this is an amazing way to engage kids in trying a multitude of activities, giving everyone the opportunity to try everything.
Rev It Up with Regina
Regina Messenger, Toms River
Regina Messenger created a YouTube channel called Rev it Up with Regina for her Silver Award. This channel was geared towards teens and young adults and was free to watch. Especially during these rough times, Regina thought it would be a great idea to showcase her talents to provide people with an affordable and easy way to work out, while continuing to stay safe. Regina believes that staying healthy is very important in a person’s daily life and through developing and sharing her videos, she hopes to make a difference in the lives of others by showing them that working out to stay healthy can be fun, beneficial, and affordable for all.
Sunrise Dancing Project
Kristen Lau and Karina Shivlani, Marlboro and Morganville
For their Silver Award, Kristen Lau and Karina Shivlani created the Sunrise Dancing Project. They created, “The Sunrise Senior Citizen Center Zumba program,” with the goal to help keep seniors active and engaged in exercise by establishing a dance program for seniors within their care facility. The girls used Zumba techniques to develop the dance program and modified them to suit the abilities of senior citizens. They danced with the seniors weekly for an hour, months prior to the pandemic. The girls also developed videos of Zumba dances and edited them for the seniors to keep and use. The girls hope that the Sunrise Senior Citizen Center Zumba Program helps seniors become happier and healthier in their life.
Sustainable Patriotic Wreaths for the Town
Catherine Petretti, Holmdel
Catherine Petretti is an 8th grade Cadette who is regularly active in community events in her town. At the Veteran’s Day ceremony last year, she saw floral wreaths being presented and thrown away after the ceremony. She had the idea to make reusable wreaths for any organization that wanted one to present at the Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day town wide ceremonies. Catherine worked hard, making five reusable floral wreaths that made their debut at this years’ Veterans Day Ceremony on November 11. The mayor thanked her in his speech, and she was mentioned in her township November newsletter.
What to Do When You're SAD
Marilena Acosta, Adriana DiLorenzo, and Sophia Newman, Manalapan and Marlboro
Everyone can feel stressed, anxiety and depression within their life. Marilena Acosta, Adriana DiLorenzo, and Sophia Newman wanted to help kids overcome these emotions while providing support, and created their Silver Award, What to Do When You're SAD. The girls created tutorials on their social media pages, and YouTube channel, that give people specific ways they can cope and deal with these negative emotions and tools to help people realize that there are others who might feel similarly. These tutorials are aimed at students but are free to everyone.
The Zen Zone
Mary Januszka, Millstone Township
For her Silver Award project, Mary Januszka created a mindfulness room (The Zen Zone) in Millstone Middle School. She did this because eight in ten students suffer from high anxiety. With donations from the community, the mindfulness room gives students and teachers a place to escape the stress by doing yoga, coloring, using fidgets/stress toys, or just quietly reflecting. During quarantine, in addition to the project, she created a virtual Zen Zone classroom for students to visit who were experiencing anxiety at such an uncertain time.
For more information about the Girl Scouts of the Jersey Shore or the Girl Scout Silver Award program, visit GSFun.org/SilverAward.