Sixteen Mahwah Girl Scouts gathered with their family members and friends at the Senior Center Monday night to receive the second highest honor in all of girl scouting - the silver award. The girls presented service projects they have worked on over the past year or more, and received certificates honoring their achievements from Mahwah's mayor and town council, the Bergen County Freeholders and Mahwah High School.
Regional Director of the Girl Scout Council of Northern New Jersey Dahlia Cooper said at the event that earning the silver award is a "huge accomplishment. The girls and their families should be very proud."
According to scouts Gabriele Gneiding and Rebecca Malz, who together ran a Clothes and Necessities Drive to benefit Shelter Our Sisters to earn their award, the lessons they learned from their project were important ones. "I learned that a little bit can go a long way," Gneiding said. "We can really make a difference in peoples' lives," Malz added.
Each girl's project took a minimum of 40 hours to complete. Here's an overview, from Mahwah Girl Scout Coordinator Susan Steinberg, of the scouts' projects:
Anti-Bullying / Karate Confidence Clinic - MaryRose Spinella, Troop 1378
The goal of this silver award project was to develop an Anti-Bullying / Karate Confidence Clinic. This utilized the Scout’s training in Karate, as a 2nd Degree Jr. Black Belt to fulfill a need in the Mahwah Community; to combat bullying in a non-violent positive manner. The project was presented to the Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Montesano, for his approval in order to hold the clinic in a Mahwah school. Anti-Bully protocol was researched with law enforcement web-sites and other academic literature. The seminar took 78 hours to develop. The Girl Scouts who attended performed role playing skits, information sharing and interactive karate movements. The girls were given to take home a comprehensive anti-bullying handbook and left feeling enabled to stand up to bullying and to notify an adult. Additionally, food donations to the Mahwah Center for Food Action were requested and 22 overflowing bags were collected!
Cheering Up Alzheimer Patients - Ashley Klein, Troop 1378
The goal of this project was to research Alzheimer’s disease and educate the 4th and 5th grade Girl Scouts about it. The Care One Facility in Wayne has a specialized wing for Alzheimer patients. After visiting this facility and working with the staff, we came up with a plan to hold workshops for younger Girl Scouts to create cheerful projects to brighten up their rooms and lives. Workshops were held at Joyce Kilmer School in the months of February, March and April for the Scouts. We delivered the projects and met with the patients during their social hour. This project was not only to educate the younger troops but to bring cheerfulness to patients who live in a facility year round. The smiles on the patient’s faces and the happiness that was generated from holding these loving projects was something I will never forget. This project was 43 hours and 15 minutes.
Coaching Soccer for Mahwah’s Youth - Meg Heller, Troop 798
This project was a very rewarding way of giving back to the community. In order to coach a kindergarten recreational soccer team, it was required to take a course on coaching and become a Rutgers Safety Certified coach. After obtaining the license, the commissioner had to be contacted, and a team was assigned. For 10 weeks, there were games and practices twice a week for 2-4 hours. This amount of time does not include writing practice plans or making post-game treats on some occasions. Overall, the project was 55.5 hours. This project was an opportunity to help some of Mahwah’s youth learn about soccer and important life lessons, all while staying active. The purpose of this project was to instill a love and appreciation for exercise into the kids at a very young age, in addition to teaching them the importance of sportsmanship. Both of these things are great values to teach young children, especially so early in their lives. It will stick with them forever, just as the values taught by the Girl Scout organization stick with all who are a part of it.
Discovering Birds - Allison Christine Homler, Troop 903
The project was centered on children getting active and going outdoors more. Allison thought it was important for young children to learn about birds and their habitat because they see them every day. She wanted them to know how to feed them and how to make them homes. Building birdhouses and bird watching are fun family and troop activities that are inexpensive and help beautify the community while bringing children and families together to work for a common goal. This project took 56 hours and 25 minutes to complete and involved a hands on workshop for Daisies, and multiple presentations to a pre-k3, pre-k4, and two kindergarten classes. Many of the children drew pictures of the birds and later sent them to her in a scrapbook thanking her for teaching them all about birds. For the last part of her project She painted and donated a birdhouse to Mahwah’s Fire Company #3 and Mahwah’s Norfolk Village Senior Housing. Allison also donated a hummingbird decoration from Home Depot to Tender Years Pre-School, where she accomplished most of her project.
Gilda’s Club Art Project - Julia Alana Anzano, Troop 798
The Gilda’s Art Project was designed for helping families in need express their feelings and emotions through art. The goal was to use my honed skills of art to help heal parents and children struggling with cancer. Working with patients and family members we did several art projects such as paper chain bracelets depicting colors of cancer awareness and drew on quilt squares to be framed and hung in memory and honor at Gilda's club. The project required talking to Gilda’s club employees and families that attended to spend time interacting with them and to understand the struggles everyone there was facing. The whole process was successful, due to the background knowledge and research of types of cancers, emotional stories and interactions, and personal attributes. The project was completed in 42 hours.
¡Hola Amigas! Spanish Club - Alissa Puzo, Troop 1325
The world is an increasingly global community, with international communication now online, and more business seeking global markets. Success in the workplace of the future will require that students have mastered a second language. While early exposure to a foreign language contributes to it's mastery, limited public school resources cannot ensure adequate exposure. The ¡Hola Amigas! Club was designed to provide exposure to young girls, using characters, games and crafts to teach themes, names, greetings, colors, foods, and holidays. Girls learned new words at each meeting, after a greeting and snack session which included a review of the past weeks vocabulary. The club members cheerfully attended almost every session and asked if a second session would be offered! A number of girls went on to enroll in a local after school Spanish Ed program and all of the club members went on to join Girl Scouts!
Pre-K Learning Sessions - Tori Alexis May, Troop 836
My project goal for my Silver Award was to help children that were currently in Pre-K get ready for kindergarten by preparing them for the upcoming school year. I conducted multiple Kindergarten Learning Sessions with four soon- to- be Kindergartners. I evaluated each child by giving them a series of questionnaires in order to determine their skill level and then determine what they need to work on the most for their upcoming year of school. Throughout the next several weeks, I spoke to a Kindergarten teacher and reading teacher and applied their knowledge and feedback to my lesson plans each week. The students and I worked on varies skills such as reading, writing, number activities and more. At the end of the sessions, I re-evaluated each child, and found that all of them had improved from the original testing. This 40 hour project was very successful and rewarding.
Saving Seniors - Alexa M. Madden, Troop 798
Projects are tough and time-consuming, and really include a lot of effort. For my project, I went around to different senior centers and handed out emergency medical cards. These cards included information such as name, medications, allergies to medications, and emergency contact information. These cards are extremely valuable in medical emergencies because they will help an EMT or medical responder learn how to help the senior. This idea was thought of by my dad, who as a police officer saw a lot of helpless seniors. He thought it would be a great way to prevent confusion on a medical scene while still being convenient for the senior. This project helped me realize how critical it can be for a senior to get help as soon as possible when in a medical crisis, and I really hope that these cards will be able to make a difference in someone’s life.
Clothes and Necessities Drive - Gabriele Gneiding & Rebecca Malz, Troop 798
The Clothes and Necessities Drive was very successful. To start off, there was many e-mails back and forth with Shelter Our Sisters’ Volunteer Director, as well as with the school guidance counselor and the principal, in order to gain approval for both the drive, and location, and then advertising. There were paper ads distributed throughout the schools and the businesses of Mahwah, and on the day of the drive, over seven carloads of toys, clothes, supplies, and furniture were collected over a six hour span. Upon delivery, the women living in the center were overjoyed and grateful for the much needed toys. One woman immediately loaded a crib into her van, and the womens’ children were outside playing on the rocking horses and bikes within ten minutes of unloading. This 45 hour project was well worth the effort.
Creative Crafting for Seniors - Erica & Jaclyn Nagotko, Troop 1378
The goal of our project, Creative Crafting for Seniors, was to address the issue of senior loneliness and boredom. Senior loneliness is a growing problem because people are living longer, many without their spouses. Due to the economy, family and friends can not visit as often. To help alleviate this problem, we held arts and crafts classes at Brighten Gardens Assisted Livings in Saddle River using materials available to seniors in their everyday lives. The seniors learned how to transform items such as coffee cans, sticks, string, paper plates, etc. into beautiful useful crafts. The seniors loved it! It impacted them by improving their eye-hand coordination, and teaching them how to think about everyday household items in a new light while staying within a budget. We spent approximately 146 hours on this project which included time of calling nursing homes, talking to the activity coordinator, creating and making each craft prior to teaching, buying materials, coming up with lesson plans and directions, baking snacks, driving there and back, setting up, teaching the classes, and cleaning up after each class. It was a wonderful experience!
Making Holidays Happy - Ava J. Bertone, Alexia Ghelfi, Kristen Grotheer & Kathleen A. Larkin, Troop 1311
Girl Scout Troop 1311 worked together for 200 hours on the "Making Holidays Happy" project for our Silver Award. The goal was to provide gifts to 100 children within the YCS (Youth Consultation Services of Bergen County.) Many of these children were in this program due to removal from their homes for various reasons. Through fundraising, gift drives, and gathering donations, the troop made trick-or-treat bags of candy, purchased each child a pair of new pajamas, provided each child with a Valentine's Day gift bag, and supported their YCS Olympics at Ramapo College. As wards of the state, children with the YCS cannot go out trick-or-treating, so the Halloween goody bags were especially valued by the kids. The troop made it a point to wrap and tag each holiday gift beautifully. The troop also had much help from our parents, siblings (especially John Grotheer-master wrapper!), and from the Mahwah community. Overall, the project was a success because it did make a difference to each of the recipients of the holiday gifts.
Girl Scout Senior Troops Leaders
Troop 798 - Ms. Susan Anzano
Troop 836 - Ms. Shari Hope
Troop 903 - Ms. Susan Steinberg
Troop 1311 - Ms. Lisa DeMaria-Bertone
Troop 1325 - Ms. Janet Puzo
Troop 1378 - Ms. Kaethe Klein