MONTVILLE, NJ - Olivia Bednash, a Towaco resident and member of Girl Scout Troop 1083, recently completed work on her Gold Award project. The grand opening of the Kitty Kabana at the Montville Animal Shelter was held on Sunday, August 3.
“I put together a small team to build this wonderful 12 by 14 foot outdoor cat enclosure so the shelter cats can get out of their small cages and get some fresh air and exercise,” Bednash explained at the grand opening.
Bednash is an animal lover and knew she wanted her Gold Award project to help animals in some way. She contacted Sue Goldblatt, the president of Montville Pet Parents, a non-profit that works closely with the Montville Animal Shelter and asked if there were any pressing needs at the shelter.
Goldblatt gave her several ideas but Bednash chose the one that interested her the most; building an outdoor cat enclosure so the shelter cats awaiting adoption could get out of their cages each day and enjoy the outdoors, exercise and socialization. Goldblatt agreed to be her project advisor to guide and assist her throughout the project.
Last fall, Bednash set forth raising money to fund the project which cost $1,814. She also enlisted the help of her father to draw the initial plans for the structure and to be the lead builder of the project team.
“Before I show you inside [the Kitty Kabana], I want to thank first and foremost my dad, Lenny Bednash, who was my architect and main construction guy,” Bednash said. “Working with him during this project, I learned how very talented he is and am very proud to call him my dad. I learned how to use a power saw, drill, screwdriver, perfected using a hammer and much more. And he also taught me that doing the grunt work for him would help build character in me.”
The construction itself took six full weekends and was just completed in July. The structure is 12’ x 14’ with another 3’ x 12’ gated entrance area, includes various climbing structures and perches, elaborate cedar cat houses and a bench for prospective adopters to view the cats at play.
At the grand opening, Bednash also extended thanks to these people who either helped with the building or donated financially to her project: her mom Tracey Bednash, John and Tracy Mertz, Dan Como and Sons who donated the gravel, John McGuckin and his Bayonne High School Carpentry Class who constructed the cat houses for the interior, The Red Barn Restaurant, Sue Goldblatt and Montville Pet Parents, Bill Wilson, the Pica’s, the Thornton’s, Epsen Fuller & Associates, and several other friends.
Olivia’s Gold Award project will be complete when she finishes a Volunteer Handbook for the animal shelter and submits her final report to the Girl Scout council. She will be entering her junior year at Montville Township High School and has an interest in pursuing architecture or interior design once she graduates in two years.
The Girl Scout Gold Award is the highest award a Girl Scout can earn and requires the completion of a leadership project of at least 80 hours. Each individual girl must discover an issue in the community that interests her, connect with experts and community members and take action to affect positive change.