Gold Award Girl Scouts Honored

Gold Award Girl Scouts Honored

Posted on August 28, 2018

Senior Girl Scouts from Montgomery who completed Gold projects were honored by the Montgomery Township Committee on May 17 and June 7 by Township officials.  Each girl explained the nature of her project and received her own framed plaque of a resolution recognizing her for her service project and Gold Award accomplishment.

Deputy Mayor Christine Madrid praised the girls for their work, stating, “This award is the highest honor a girl scout can obtain and requires great organizational and leadership skills! It is the culmination of years of activity and the Montgomery Twp. Committee is proud to congratulate these accomplished young women and thank them for their contribution to our community!”

Please see the following descriptions of the Gold Projects from each girl in her own words, listed alphabetically.

Lauren Cunniff:

Service PTSD & SemperFido
For her Gold Award project Lauren explored the effect of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder on servicemen and women and how service dogs are of help. She worked with the organization SemperFido who pairs servicemen with shelter animals so the two can bond as they heal together. She created an informational pamphlet on PTSD including general facts, signs and symptoms, and help resources. In addition, she filmed and edited a video about SemperFido and its mission including quotes from interviews with soldiers with PTSD. Lauren also ran a donation drive for supplies for SemperFido and made gift bags for their graduating dog/serviceman team including matching bandanas, picture frames, and toys. Finally, she connected with the Family Readiness Center and provided her pamphlets to help bridge the gap between the military and available PTSD resources. Lauren will be attending Stevens Institute of Technology in the fall to study Biomedical Engineering and will be playing Lacrosse while at Stevens.

Tanaya Deshpande:

Bringing Books to the Children of Homefront
Tanaya’s Gold Project was the collected over 2000 books for donation to Homefront and the organization of the books into a children’s donor library there, by age and genre.  She organized a book fair and summer reading program for the kids as well. She requested the books from school and library sources. She got the idea when touring the new Ewing facility of Homefront. HomeFront’s mission is to end homelessness in Central New Jersey by harnessing the caring, resources and expertise of the community.

Julia Garaffa:

For her Gold Award Project, Julia wanted to make information regarding the work of her town’s volunteer boards and committees easily accessible and pleasant to obtain. In partnership with the Montgomery Environmental Commission and Sustainable Montgomery, Julia created 13 videos highlighting key volunteer boards in Montgomery. These videos, available on YouTube and the Montgomery Township website, included information such as the purpose of each committee, the projects they had been involved in and would be pursuing in the future, and how interested parties can get involved. The purpose of the project was to increase citizen involvement and diversity on the volunteer Township boards. By creating these videos, Julia hopes that individuals who had previously been unaware of the work of different boards and committees could educate themselves, increasing their awareness of the importance of volunteers in the daily functions of local government and inspiring them to take action. Julia will be attending Princeton University and plans to study Molecular Biology. She hopes to continue her involvement in Girl Scout as an adult.

Kelsey McAlister:

Introduction to Girls Ice Hockey, Define the Status Quo
Kelsey wanted to empower interested girls to learn and thrive playing ice hockey. Since there were so few girls playing in the surrounding areas she wanted to run workshops for girls to come learn basic hockey skills that could translate into taking up the sport. Encouraging the girls to ignore gender stereotypes, Kelley organized and ran four free floor hockey clinics at Otto Kaufman Community Center for ten girls which introduced them to the sport in a fun environment.  She also created a brochure and offered training on creating a clinic series to surrounding townships.  Kelsey is an ice hockey player on the team at the Lawrenceville School.

Elise Randolph:

Construction of UMS Outdoor Volleyball Court & Intro Clinics
The goal of Elise’s Gold Award project was to introduce the sport of volleyball to boys and girls at a younger age.  As a member of the Montgomery High School volleyball program, Elise developed a passion for the sport and decided to share that interest with an after-school interest clinic with students at Montgomery Upper Middle School.  Through these clinics and with the help of Mrs. Guinta, a Physical Education teacher at UMS, she was able to build strong connections with many of the students and develop their interests and skills in volleyball. The large part of her project was constructing an outdoor volleyball court for all UMS students to utilize during their Flex and Physical Education classes.  This court offers UMS students an opportunity for exposure to the sport of volleyball, a way to stay active and socialize while doing an outdoor activity. The volleyball program continues to grow at Montgomery High School and having students develop an interest and skills in the sport in the middle school years is important. In fact, the interest has grown so much that this past year was the first year to field a freshman team, many of whom participated in the UMS after school clinics.

Riya Sampat:

A Journey of Fitness and Nutrition Through Dance
Riya’s project addressed the unhealthy foods kids eat. Riya chose to educate elementary age children on the different foods they can eat to obtain the proper nutrients their growing bodies need.  She also encouraged the importance of good fitness for overall health, taught elements and benefits of stretching and gave an introductory lesson on Classical Indian Dance.  Riya linked these topics together in a series of workshops held at the Otto Kaufman Center.  This fall Riya will be attending the Business School of Rutgers University where she plans to major in business analytics and information technology.

Tarah Sipos:

Gaga Pit
For her Gold Award, Tarah built a Gaga Pit at the Orchard Hill Elementary School (OHES) playground to enhance the options for the young students during physical education and outdoor recess. She needed to secure all funding by fundraising, seek approvals including ground permits, develop a plan for installation, and finally secure resources to help build. Her favorite part of the project was when the Gaga Pit was completely installed and she was able to teach the students how to play. That is when she saw the most impact on others within her project.  The OHES students were very pleased and the Gaga Pit became one of their favorite activities. Through the Girl Scout Gold Award, she has learned life-long leadership skills.  She will be attending Loyola University Maryland in the fall.

Elizabeth Song:

Eden Works Art Project
Elizabeth taught students with autism, from age 5 to 21 on creating art projects from clay to paint to markers for an entire school year, offering a new after school program she developed herself.  The school decided to permanently incorporate the program into its curriculum. Elizabeth, who has art training, conceived the idea for her project from seeing the impact art can have as a positive means of communication and creativity when she tutored a single student with autism previously.

Nanki Verma:

Mission Red White & Blue
Nanki created collection boxes at Twp. Building, Community Center and Library to collect items for care packages with letters sent to soldiers overseas for the holidays.  She was assisted by the Interact Club in writing the letters.  She also organized letters from residents of Acorn Glenn Senior Citizen Center.  The project helped her gain an appreciation for the work that overseas U.S. soldiers do for us.

Nanki will begin her training as an Army Officer at West Point this fall.

Emma Waxman:

Dance for All

Emma was concerned to learn that children in lower socio-economic communities often do not have exposure to the arts. Without exposure to the arts, these children may not develop focus, creativity and confidence, or know about careers in the arts. Emma created and ran a dance program at a local YMCA for at-risk children entering kindergarten. This program included daily dance classes for several weeks and a performance at the end for their parents. Each child received a costume, class picture, performance and ballet instruction video and free tickets to a local Nutcracker production. Emma also had pre-professional dancers perform for the children, to inspire and entertain them. The children expressed their excitement throughout the program, which left a lasting imprint of the arts in their lives.  In addition to strengthening her communication and leadership skills, this project taught Emma she has the ability to make a change in someone else’s life. Emma plans to attend Elon University in North Carolina this fall.

Extending honors or being honored for Girl Scout Gold Award Projects on June 7th are (l to r): Montgomery Township Committee Deputy Mayor Pat Graham and member Sadaf Jaffer; Girl Scouts Tanaya Deshpande, Elizabeth Song, Nanki Verma, Julia Garaffa, Emma Waxman, and Kelsey McAlister (with plaques); Mayor Christine Madrid, and Adult Leader of Troop #61282 Jen Waxman. (Twp. Com. position titles as of 8/16/18)

Posing with their Montgomery Twp. resolutions after being honored by the Montgomery Township Committee on May 17 are (l to r): Elise Randolph and Lauren Cunniff of Troop #60910.  Not pictured: Gold Award honoree Tarah Sipos, also of Troop #60910

Riya Sampat (right) with Natasha Hemmings, Girl Scout Heart ofNJ CEO, at the Gold Awards ceremony in Bedminster.