Monday, January 31, 2022

Gold Award Spotlight: Opening Up the Opera

Girl Scout Ambassador Mary recently earned her Gold Award by completing a service project she titled, “Opening Up the Opera.” Mary is passionate about opera and wanted to improve the accessibility and appreciation of opera for students. To do so, she created an informational brochure featuring repertoire geared towards children that represents distinct vocal types found in opera. She also planned, promoted, and executed a free in-person event at the Harrison Opera in Norfolk, VA in cooperation with Rachel Ginzberg, Director of Artistic Operations for the Virginia Opera. The event featured four singers and an accompanist from the Virginia Opera hired by Mary using personal funds earned and donations, along with a vocal performance from Mary herself. 

Mary felt that as a student, she could bridge a gap and share her passion for the arts with other students. She said, “The lack of availability of educational resources for young people by other students makes it more difficult to understand the meaningfulness and timelessness of opera.” The Girl Scout continued, “I have been lucky enough to experience opera related programs and wish to give back this gift.”

Mary’s project was proudly supported by the Virginia Opera who provided recording, facilitation and website space for the project. Rachel Ginzberg, Director of Artistic Operations for the Virginia Opera said, “She [Mary] has inspired us to begin exploring the creation of a “Kids’ Corner” on our education page with her project serving as the inaugural piece!”

Congratulations, Mary!

Friday, January 28, 2022

Alum Spotlight: Camille Birdsong

Camille Birdsong, a senior at Hampton University majoring in Journalism and minoring in Leadership, grew up through the Girl Scout ranks. She had no doubt that she would continue as a young adult to be part of the Movement. As a lifetime Girl Scout, she is still finding ways to stay connected to her local council, Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast. 

Camille is proud that she earned all of the top awards as a Girl Scout, the Bronze as a Junior, the Silver as a Cadette and the Gold during her years as an Ambassador. Her Gold Award project, “Camille’s Melodious Music Program,” was designed for children affected by domestic abuse. “I created a music curriculum that explained music genres, instruments, and theory,” Camille said, "I taught lessons to the children at the HER Shelter, a shelter that houses mothers and their children who are trying to get back on their feet after suffering from domestic violence and abuse. It was a rewarding project, and I know it made a difference in many of the children’s lives. I was able to recruit volunteer helpers who continued the work of the project.”

Camille said she continues to tap leadership skills honed in Girl Scouts. “There are two things that I took away from my Girl Scout experience,” Camille said. “The first is a drive for success. Every time I am writing an article for Her Campus or producing a news story for WHOV-TV News, I am always reminded to work hard towards great results. I think of the times when there was a badge to work towards or a project to complete with my troop. I remained steadfast in what I was aiming for and strived for success.

As a Girl Scout alum, she has helped with advocacy projects and this fall Camille worked on a student capstone project about the participation of African American Girl Scouts. Camille is on track to graduate from Hampton University in May of 2022 from the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications. She has already interned with the TODAY Show and the Weekend TODAY Show and hopes to work after graduation with NBC in New York or an affiliate news station in Washington D.C. as a producer, creating and developing stories to share with her community and making a difference- just as she did as a Girl Scout!

Thursday, January 27, 2022

Gold Award Spotlight: Food Pantry Cookbook

Girl Scout Ambassador Ivy recently earned the Gold Award by completing a service project she titled, “Food Pantry Cookbook.” Ivy partnered with Eastern Shore Chapel Food Pantry director, Kay O’Reilly, to understand the needs of community members who utilize the pantry’s services and developed a cookbook that guides readers through recipes that use common food pantry ingredients.

Ivy said, “Food pantries help solve the issue of people getting more groceries but, what’s next? Families need help making this food last through the whole week and finding recipes that make a lot of food with the limited number of items they have can be hard.”

She volunteered at Eastern Shore Chapel Food Pantry to understand how their system works from processing donations to helping customers shop. By doing so, Ivy was able to research the goods customers most frequently used, what was available to them, and the struggles people were facing in their home kitchens. 

She stated, “The food varies each week. Sometimes you get a lot of good meats and vegetables and other weeks it’s mostly shelf-stable food. Families need help making the food that they are given into something that can sustain their family throughout the whole week.”

After research, the Girl Scout went on to develop test recipes at home and print her own cookbook copies using funds from family donations and a bake sale she hosted. The cookbook is designed with the familys’ ever-changing needs in mind and offers ways to transform ingredients and add variety to common pantry goods.

Her cookbook has been made available free of charge to patrons of Eastern Shore Chapel Food Pantry and she offers a free online copy here:

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Bronze Award Spotlight: Williamsburg Food Drive

Girl Scout Cadettes of Troop 1284 LaRue, Lillian, Lilah, Kailani, Anna, Maryah, Addison, Victoria, and Armani were recently awarded the Girl Scout Bronze Award by completing a service project they titled, “Williamsburg Food Drive.”

To get started, during troop meetings, the girls began discussing what needs their community had and how they could help those needs be met. The Girl Scouts agreed to host a food drive with plans to donate to a local organization in Williamsburg, House of Mercy, which helps people locally meet their food, shelter, and personal needs. 

To get the word out about their project, they advertised via social media, posters, flyers, word of mouth, texting, and phone calls. The girls also handed out candy during the Williamsburg Holiday Parade with information about their service project and how to donate. The week of the drive, they discussed what kinds of things they might expect to receive in donations, and set up and labeled bins to sort the food on the day of the event. The girls also made posters and signage to be used at the two day drop-off donation event they held in December 2021. 

Troop Leader of Troop 1284, Tonia Horton, said, “During the drop-off event, the girls handed out flyers, spun their hand-made posters, and talked to people about the food drive. They even cheered, did the wave, and sang songs.”

She continued, “We were really amazed to see how the community responded, and we got an excellent turnout, especially on day two. We had a lot of people come back because of the girls' enthusiasm on day one.” 

During the food drive, the girls sorted everything into bins as it came in and in all collected over 600 pounds of food and $60 in monetary donations, which they donated directly to House of Mercy in Williamsburg. 

Tonia said, “It was a wonderful event, and the girls all left feeling really good about making a difference. It was a true joy to see how much effort they put into making this a success, and how happy they were with the results.”

Congratulations, Girl Scouts!

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Silver Award Spotlight: Soccer Equipment Collection for the Luke Messick Futbol Charities Inc.

Girl Scout Cadettes Jillian and Madelyn recently earned their Silver Award by completing a project they titled, “Soccer Equipment Collection for the Luke Messick Futbol Charities Inc.”

The Girl Scouts collected soccer jerseys, socks, and soccer balls to benefit Luke Messick Futbol Charities Inc. By collecting these items, they helped to provide dozens of children in Ghana, West Africa with equipment to practice the very popular futbol, or soccer, as we call it in the United States. The girls collected the items with the help of members and staff at Beach FC, located in Virginia Beach, a soccer organization that provides recreation and training to soccer players locally.  

“To collect our equipment we set up a stand at the Beach FC preseason camp and the Beach FC Futsal Facility,” the girls said.  “We also partnered with the Luke Messick Futbol Charities Inc. and this is where we gave our equipment to.”

Upon completion of the drive, the equipment was donated to Luke Messick Futbol Charities Inc who organized air transport of the equipment to the Young Orphans Futbol Club in Ghana, West Africa.

Sunday, January 9, 2022

Gold Award Spotlight: Isle of Wight County Litter Prevention Community Education Program

Girl Scout Ambassador Elise of Troop 4170 recently earned her Gold Award by completing a project she titled, “Isle of Wight County Litter Prevention Community Education Program.” Elise worked with DeAnna Lawrence of Isle of Wight County Solid Waste Division and Lynn Briggs of Isle of Wight County Schools to create an educational program and website for the community to educate about outdoor waste prevention. Elise said she learned environmental stewardship through Girl Scouting and wanted to make a difference.

“I found through my research that my county did not have an active litter prevention program, and I wanted to do something,” Elise said. “People do not know the true harmful impacts of littering, so they continue to throw trash on the ground and in the water,”

Her program is aimed at elementary aged students and explains the environmental dangers of littering. In addition to the educational program, Elise also organized a clean-up day with Beta Club volunteers of Smithfield High School at four area elementary schools, Hardy Elementary School, Windsor Elementary School, Carrsville Elementary School and Carrollton Elementary School. Julie Eng of Smithfield High School pledged to continue the annual clean up each spring as a project with her high school student volunteers.