2019 Gold Award Ceremony
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2019 Gold Award Ceremony

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The Girl Scouts of the Jersey Shore honored 23 outstanding young women who earned their Gold Award during a May 29 ceremony at Branches, Long Branch.

These remarkable young women are a result of what Girl Scouts offers—programming that develops girls of the utmost courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place.

Through the Girl Scout Gold Award, girls are given an opportunity to engage in leadership at the highest levels while addressing an issue they feel passionately about. The honor requires girls to demonstrate their leadership skills by tackling a community or global issue. A minimum of 80 hours of community service is required for each project. 

First presented more than 100 years ago, the Girl Scout Gold Award is the highest award a Girl Scout can receive and the most difficult award to earn in all scouting. Its recipients over the years rate their general success significantly higher than their peers and report greater success in reaching their goals in many areas, including:

  • Higher education and careers
  • Life skills 
  • Community involvement

2019 Gold Award Girl Scouts


Annika Agarwal

Annika Agarwal addressed rising diabetic rates in India, the world's hub for diabetes. She collected more than 1,000 eyeglasses from local businesses, along with blood pressure machines and glucose tests to measure diabetic indicators. She then traveled to India and partnered with the Lions Club of Mumbai to set up free health clinics for approximately 2,000 underprivileged residents; she also hosted diabetes seminars while in India, distributing pamphlets and information regarding the disease. After seeing the number of individuals in need of surgery at her health clinics, Annika created The N.A.I.N.A. Foundation, a nonprofit organization which aims to provide medical aid for those in need. Through her nonprofit she has raised funds for over 20 surgeries and hosted a Guinness World Record Event to raise awareness for her cause. 

Click here to hear Annika speak more about her Gold Award project.


Kate Bourke

Kate Bourke determined many teenagers don’t understand the need and importance of organ donation and created an education program to change those misconceptions. She used research from the NJ Sharing Network to start a dialog about the subject, raising awareness of a topic she felt was often avoided and rarely discussed. As part of her project, Kate became a NJ Sharing Network volunteer and spoke on behalf of the organization at St. Rose High School, Belmar, which she attends. During her presentation to students, faculty and staff, Kate discussed the importance of organ donation and created a group to run in the annual NJ Sharing Network 5k.

Click here to hear Kate speak more about her Gold Award project.


Sophia Church
Island Heights

Sophia Church raised awareness of micro-recycling, which is the belief that individuals should use community and small-scale personal recycling programs to take ownership over the trash they create by reducing waste and recycling materials not normally recycled. To raise awareness, Sophia educated her community at multiple town events and at the Stuart Lead Like a Girl Conference. Sophia also started the Trex Recycling program in her town, gathering over 500 pounds of plastic film to recycle with the help of her town’s Green Team. Trex Recycling collects that film and recycles it into benches which it then awards back to organizations that reach its 500 pound donation goal. The bench donated by Trex Recycling through Sophia’s efforts will be placed in the town’s Children's Garden.

Click here to hear Sophia speak more about her Gold Award project.


Kate Donnelly

Currently 1.3 million active military personnel protect us every day, often going unappreciated for their service. In order to give back to these brave men and women who are away from their families, Kate Donnelly worked with Operation Jersey Cares to collect donations from schools, libraries and other locations. She then created care packages to ship to deployed military personnel. Through her efforts, 60 individual packages and seven boxes of donated homemade cookies were hand-packed, along with required items and handwritten thank you notes from students.


Brooke Donzelli

As a global citizen, Brooke Donzelli believes the younger we learn about the impact we have on our environment, the more we will care for the world around us. To gain the attention of teens and raise awareness of their personal environmental impact, Brooke created opportunities to highlight ways teens can locally reduce their carbon footprint. She hosted activities at the Howell Library and created garden signs with environmental tips for a Howell school garden. She also attended a Girl Scout Earth Day activity, teaching younger girls about their carbon footprint and used social media to connect girls in her community with others around the world.

Click here to hear Brooke speak more about her Gold Award project.


Jordan Donzelli

Diamondback Terrapin Turtles are native to the Jersey Shore area and need protection. To raise awareness of the risks faced by these turtles due to human actions, Jordan Donzelli created a website and hosted a Teen Talk at Howell Library, as well as hosting a free movie night featuring the movie “Plastic Oceans.” She also created a Girl Scout interactive game and shared it with her sister Girl Scouts during the council’s annual Spooktacular event. Through these educational programs, Jordan taught her peers how they can show their love of turtles by recycling, bringing their own bag when shopping, using a refillable water bottle, and not using plastic straws or balloons. 


Elizabeth Ellis

Elizabeth Ellis worked with people in her community and students at her high school to create bags that contained necessary products for the homeless. All the supplies were donated through several drives. The bags were later distributed to the homeless both in and out of Monmouth County. Elizabeth also educated her school and the members of her community about what the homeless need on the street and how to treat them with compassion. She taught her peers the causes of homelessness to help them understand why people are homeless and that they need to be respected.

Click here to hear Elizabeth speak more about her Gold Award project.


Bailey Farrell

As her senior year of high school was coming to a close, Bailey Farrell set out to leave a lasting impact. By partnering with the Special Education Department at Manchester High School, Bailey developed a sensory garden for students with Sensory Processing Disorder, a condition commonly accompanied by developmental conditions like autism, in which the brain has trouble receiving and responding to sensory stimulus. By creating an intimate space with specially selected plants designed with the purpose of stimulating the senses, Bailey was able to provide a resource for the student body for years to come.

Click here to hear Bailey speak more about her Gold Award project.


Julia Fuchs
North Middletown

Julia Fuchs focused her Gold Award Project on the local history of her hometown, Middletown. Driven by her passion for history, Julia noticed from an early age that citizens of her area rarely celebrated, or even knew about, the rich revolutionary roots of the town. Julia devoted her high school senior year to researching and interviewing citizens about local history. She then created a local history blog and created a badge program for younger Girl Scouts to learn about local history. The experience inspired Julia to continue studying history in college. She now studies History and Anthropology at Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland. She also interns at a local historical home and is working to create a children’s program to help local schools and Girl Scout troops learn about their revolutionary roots.

Click here to hear Julia speak more about her Gold Award project.


Claire Haynes
Fair Haven

Claire Haynes is passionate about healthy living and combating the social injustices that have led to poorer physical and mental health in communities where citizens live below the poverty line. She partnered with a local non-profit organization that assists underprivileged youth, organized a team of volunteers and created a program for girls and boys ranging in age from 9-13, educating and inspiring them to lead healthy lifestyles. During each session the children learned how to prepare low-cost nutritious snacks and learned how to express themselves through a simple, fun exercise. 


Katrina Henriques

Katrina Henriques created interactive toys for dogs and cats awaiting adoption at the Monmouth County SPCA. The toys were part of a behavior modification program designed to ease the tension and stress that animals face while living in the shelter. Katrina also presented workshops where she discussed what happens to animals after they are surrendered, abandoned or seized and brought to the shelter. She created her project to prepare the animals for adoption; a higher adoption rate not only reduces overpopulation and euthanasia at the shelter, it also makes the animals healthier, happier and more suitable for integration into loving families.

Click here to hear Katrina speak more about her Gold Award project.


Morgan Koopman

Self-esteem and self-confidence are a problem facing many in today’s society. To address this issue, Morgan Koopman assembled and managed a team to paint the walls and put up positive quotes in the bathrooms of Sylvia Rosenauer Elementary school. Students will see these quotes on a daily basis, which will inspire them to stop comparing themselves to the rest of the world and encourage them to follow their dreams. 

Click here to hear Morgan speak more about her Gold Award project.


Rachel Lipton

Rachel Lipton wanted to raise awareness about the toxic and endocrine-disrupting chemicals in cosmetics, hair and nail care products. These chemicals, such as parabens, phthalates, lead and formaldehyde, are absorbed into people’s bodies slowly over time and often cause disease. Rachel designed a brochure to distribute in doctors’ offices and also created a video to bring awareness to the community in hopes that the consumer will choose more natural products without preservatives.


Paige McPaul

For many years, as a volunteer at her local library and her town’s Challenger Club, Paige McPaul would hear parents of special needs children say they wished there were programs available for participation in addition to sports. In response, Paige developed a Special Needs Activity Club at the library because she enjoys helping others and wanted to make sure everyone felt included. The club she created provides parents and children an enjoyable place to receive support and share experiences with one another. 

Click here to hear Paige speak more about her Gold Award project.


Hannah Misyak

Hannah Misyak’s project was inspired by her immeasurable love and passion for animals. Hannah raised awareness about the commitment needed when owning a pet; promoted adopting from rescue organizations rather than from puppy mills, and brought awareness to other pet-related issues. Hannah also raised money to make much needed renovations to facilities at Rescue Ridge, an 11th hour, no-kill animal rescue group serving central New Jersey. Hannah also organized the 4 Paws Sake Family Fun Fest, which consisted of vendors, demonstrations, live entertainment, and games. Her event became a successful community outreach activity and is now an annual event.

Click here to hear Hannah speak more about her Gold Award project.


Amy Musselman

Amy Musselman created a leadership program for refugee girls in her community. Her program, Soar, addressed the difficulties these girls face and fosters a positive environment where they can adjust to American culture and grow as individuals and friends. Amy is currently working with the International Rescue Committee to help these young refugees in a multitude of different ways. 

Click here to hear AMy speak more about her Gold Award project.


Devin Norton

When she was a high school freshman, a childhood friend died and donated his organs to help others. His death inspired Devin Norton to found a Donate Life Club at her high school in his honor. The club raises awareness at the school and in the community about organ and tissue donation and inspires others to become registered donors. 

Click here to hear Devin speak more about her Gold Award project.


Grace Peterson

For 12 years, Grace Peterson volunteered at the Bradley Beach Food Pantry with her Girl Scout Troop. For her Gold Award project, Grace decided to do more, creating a Medical Supply Center for the pantry. Thanks to the center, clients can now access simple medical materials, like Band-Aids, to aid them in living a healthier life. In addition, she repainted the food pantry foyer and created a memory wall to honor the dedicated pantry volunteers who have passed away.

Click here to hear Grace speak more about her Gold Award project.


Mary Serviss
Little Egg Harbor

Boosting women’s confidence and providing resources for women to learn how to defend themselves if attacked or abused was the focus of Mary Serviss’ Gold Award project. She worked with a local martial arts trainer to develop a self-defense program for women in her area. She then hosted a workshop for women of all ages and created a women’s self-defense instructional pamphlet that was published online. She also donated items to a local women’s shelter and created an Instagram account to spread the empowering message of her project and share the information she learned. 

Click here to hear Mary speak more about her Gold Award project.


Shannon Smith
Union Beach

Shannon Smith’s project promoted the use of reusable items, such as straws and bags, as one way to keep oceans clean. To raise awareness, she hosted information sessions at her local library, where she made reusable bags from t-shirts; this served as an example of how everyday items can be replaced with recycled alternatives. Shannon also helped at Union Beach Day, distributing informational flyers along with the handmade reusable bags. In order to give her project longevity, Shannon also created an animation showcasing the information she learned.

Click here to hear Shannon speak more about her Gold Award project.


Valassia Antigone Theocharides
Colts Neck

The United States faces a national obesity problem and one solution is to raise awareness of convenient and manageable exercise for all individuals. To do this, Valassia Antigone Theocharides (or as she likes to be called, Noni) created a two-day program at Holmdel Park. On the first day, people participated in a workshop highlighting healthy lifestyles, nutrition, simple first aid and basic exercises. During the fitness walk on the second day, Noni led exercises along the trail using the activities demonstrated during the workshop. People of all ages participated in these activities and now know simple steps they can take to lead a healthier life.

Click here to hear Noni speak more about her Gold Award project.


Noelle Ventura
Spring Lake

Noelle Ventura sought to help young women gain confidence through their clothing and personal presentation. She created YouTube videos demonstrating how to alter clothes to better fit, which can lead to greater confidence. Noelle also organized a clothing drive at her school for young women, ages 13-21. The clothes were donated, along with sewing kits, to the Madonna House in order to help young women of different backgrounds gain confidence through their appearance. She also spoke to girls at her school about the importance of confidence. 

Click here to hear Noelle speak more about her Gold Award project.


Summer Wells

Summer Wells believed teens in her community lacked awareness about the healthy coping mechanisms needed to manage stress. She designed a series of interactive workshops that highlighted a different coping mechanism each event. Summer also created a resource center in the guidance office of her high school with information about how to cope with daily stress and donated stress balls that students could take for free. To conclude her project, Summer partnered with another student and painted an encouraging mural in her school hallway to remind other students to always persevere through stressful times. 

Click here to hear Summer speak more about her Gold Award project.