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Silver and gold

Local Girl Scouts turn to commnity service into precious commodity
By: Susan Jameson, Gold Country News Service
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Girl Scout Troop 1033, a Roseville Cadette Troop led by Cindy Blehm, has been busy helping the community in several different ways. Of the six girls in the troop, Morgan Blehm and Ashleigh and Caitlyn Wardell have all earned their Silver Award, the highest award for Cadette Girl Scouts (ages 11-14). Only about 50 Girl Scouts in the Girl Scouts of Heart of Central California Council, which serves more than 29,000 girls in 18 counties, earned the Silver Award last year. In addition to earning a leadership and career award, the girls each had to plan and complete a community service project to earn their Silver Award. I have had these girls in my troop for a while and am constantly amazed at what they can do when they put their minds to it, said Cindy. Caitlyn Wardell's project involved helping build nine houses for needy families in Mexico. She learned about Amore Ministries through Adventure Christian Church, which she attends. As a volunteer, she helped plan activities and built houses under the supervision of an experienced contractor. In preparation, Caitlyn attended training sessions on construction techniques prior to her week-long trip to Tecate, Mexico in April 2007. Once there, Caitlyn was part of a team that built one of the nine houses. Not many 14-year-olds travel to Mexico for a week without their family to live in squalid conditions and build nine houses for the poor, Cindy said. Her hard work and dedication surprised the adults on the trip and she was very skilled in learning the construction techniques required. Caitlyn said she chose to participate in this project because she wanted to help meet the needs of the poor. While there, she also taught songs and crafts with some of the local children. Caitlyn is an amazing young woman who is always willing to help others and loves providing mentoring and care to younger kids, Cindy said. Not to be outdone by big sister Caitlyn, Ashleigh Wardell, 12, wanted to provide less fortunate children with toys and a holiday party. Ashleigh chose the Crisis Nursery Center, run by the Sacramento Children's Home. Initially, Ashleigh said she had planned an afternoon party with snacks, crafts and games, but the representative from the Crisis Nursery told her that traditionally the children were treated to a full meal. For most 12-year-olds, this difference in vision would have been a deal-breaker, but Ashleigh simply changed her vision. I wasn't expecting to spend that much money on the party so I had to figure out a whole new game plan for it, she said. The result was a home-like environment for the 45 displaced children right before the holidays (Dec. 21). The dinner included four turkeys, mashed potatoes, yams, green beans, salad and dessert and a present for every child. It also included crafts and entertainment. In order to accomplish this, Ashleigh had to get other troops in the Sierra Rose Service Unit, which serves the Dry Creek School District, involved. Normally shy, she learned to overcome her fear of public speaking by giving three speeches to the service unit soliciting help for her project “ she made me so proud, Cindy said. Through donations from others, Ashleigh served 75 diners and provided toys for 45 children. I learned that everyone can do something to help and even the smallest things matter, Ashleigh said. A lot of people are willing to give money but not all people have enough time to donate. Morgan Blehm's passion for the homeless and poor transformed into a project that delivered 165 filled and decorated stockings to the Sacramento Children's Home, Birth and Beyond Program. More than that, however, Morgan, 12, held a sewing workshop for those Girl Scouts who did not know how to sew. She was very organized and demonstrated amazing leadership skills in hosting the sewing workshop, said mom and troop leader Cindy. To sew the stockings, Morgan organized 145 Girl Scouts, who rotated through four stations during a sewing workshop. The younger girls then decorated and filled the stockings with items for children 6 years old and younger. It was a very humbling service project for her to realize how many children don't have buckets of presents under the tree, said Cindy. It really hit home for her when she assembled the recommended list of items for each stocking and included toothpaste and a new toothbrush for each child. Morgan's goal was to deliver 100 stockings, but on Dec. 19, she was able to deliver 165. I thought that this would help me understand about how many children don't have a home to live in or families to love, so I wanted to help them understand there is hope in life, they just have to believe, Morgan said. For Caitlyn, learning about the different parts of the award process was also interesting. I wanted to earn the Silver Award because there are so many different parts to it and I think it helped make me a better person, Caitlyn said. All three girls agree earning the Silver Award was a time consuming effort. I learned how much hard work it can be but how rewarding and fun it also is, Caitlyn said. I would definitely do it again. Caitlyn has been a Girl Scout for five years and plans to stick with GS through high school and earn her Gold Award. Sister Ashleigh, who will complete her seventh year with Troop 1033 in June, agrees. I am planning on staying in girl scouts as long as I can, she said. This award was difficult but how can you ever learn if it isn't a challenge? Though it was very difficult, and I am betting the Gold even more so, the experience I had by earning it is priceless. The three remaining girls in Troop 1033, Maci Mack, Nichole Hutchens and Amanda Kittle, also plan to earn the prestigious Silver Award before they bridge to Senior Girl Scouts in next year. They will more than likely earn their Silver in early 2009, Cindy said. Although Morgan said she might give up Girl Scouts in high school, she has learned a valuable lesson by earning the Silver Award. I never thought one person could change things before, she said. But now I do. Silver Award requirements - Girl must work on the project between the ages of 11 and 14 - Earn the Silver Leadership Award - Earn the Silver Career Award - Earn the Silver 4Bs Challenge - Plan a project that takes about 40 hours to complete - Review and submit a final report to the council