The Chatham Girl Scouts 2021 Gold Award Ceremony and Senior Class Celebration took place on June 7th at the Gazebo in Reasoner Park.

Local Dignitaries included Chatham Borough Mayor Thaddeus Kobylarz, Chatham Borough Council President Carolyn Dempsey, Chatham Township Mayor Tracy Ness, Chatham Township Deputy Mayor Stacey Ewald, and Chatham Jaycees Representative Bill Heap.

Also in attendance were Girl Scouts Northern New Jersey (GSNNJ) CEO Betty Garger, GSNNJ COO Jessica Hoffman, and Chatham Girl Scouts Service Unit Manager Virginia Gryta. 

After the flag ceremony conducted by junior girl scouts, the evening’s MC Laura Ranji, co-leader of Troop 8-2076 provided background information on the Girl Scouts in general and the amazing participation of the Chatham Troops in particular. The ceremony recognized the Girl Scout tradition of bridging 31 Chatham Ambassador Scouts to adult. Of those 31 scouts, Chatham boasts an impressive 14 Gold Award recipients. The Girl Scout Gold Award is the highest achievement one can earn and is received by a little more than 5% of girls in the program.

Borough Mayor Kobylarz greeted the more than 100 family and friends in the crowd with a hearty congratulations to all the Gold Award winners for their perseverance, hard work, and attention to detail. “Indeed, a 2021 National GS Alumni Study concluded that Gold Award Scouts place significantly higher importance on the pursuit of a successful career, assuming leadership roles, and attaining ambitious professional and personal goals. Two notable illustrations of this are U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (Illinois), Ret. US Army Colonel and Purple Heart Recipient, and U.S. Congresswoman Kendra Horn (Oklahoma),” said Kobylarz.

“As I looked through your impressive list of Take Action Projects, I saw a common thread of empathy and desire to help others. Being creative, resourceful, and empathetic will help you enrich your own lives and improve whatever community or vocation you choose. Your Gold Award is not the end of a journey but the beginning of one. I encourage you to take the skills you have learned and the confidence you’ve gained to go out and make your own mark on this world.” said Borough Council Member Carolyn Dempsey.

Township Mayor Tracy Ness congratulated the Gold Award recipients and encouraged them to make “Herstory” with the life skills they have learned to create the future from a feminist perspective. 

Betty Garger and Jessica Hoffman of the Girl Scouts of Northern New Jersey were on hand to congratulate the Girl Scouts and commented that this was the largest group of active Ambassadors and Gold Award recipients in recent memory.

Each Individual Troop leader honored the Gold Award Scouts with yellow roses, a Gold Pin, Green and gold graduation cords, and by giving a brief bio of their Take Action Project. Each Take Action Project requires that the scout earn the Silver Award and complete one  Senior/Ambassador Journey, show individual leadership roles, pinpoint a community issue that includes provisions for ensuring sustainability, identify national or global links between the community issue and the world around them, and complete a minimum of 80 hours. 

A special presentation of yellow roses and cheers from the crowd were bestowed upon 93-year-old Blanche Blumenfeld.  Mrs. Blumenfeld is thought to be the only living member of Chatham Township’s Girl Scout Troop 28 and Chatham’s oldest Girl Scout. 

The Girl Scouts who received the Gold Award in the 2021 Ceremony are as follows: Samantha Murphy Troop 8-2076 (Bringing Books Below Broadway); Kate Ziegler Troop 8-2076 (Water Safety for All); Maya Ranji Troop 8-2076 (Sensory Boxes); Megan Alperowitz Troop 8-2076 (Road Safety on Shunpike Road); Grace Zinn Troop 8-2076 (Field Hockey Assessment/Coaching Packet and Gear Collection); Evelyn Tomaro Troop Juliette (Chatham Music Tutoring Program); Ava Tesoriero Troop 8-2215 (Sensory Art Program); Grace Toscano Troop 8-2215 (Ogden Junior Preschool “Pocket Park”); Grace Nugent Troop 8-1981 (Giving Gardens); Samantha Teisch Troop 8-1981 (Career Glimpses); Kaitlin Osucha Troop 8-1203 (Educate, Provide, and Continue); Aerin Zucchi Troop 8-1203 (Summer Reading, Isn’t It a Blast); Melissa Moran Troop 8-1016 (You Are Not Alone); and Claire Tunny Troop 8-0104 (They Were Here for Us, Let Us Be There For Them).

The Senior Class of 2021 Ambassador Scouts are as follows: Katherine Caviness (T8-0104), Sarah Delaney (T8-0104), Gianna Latorre (T8-0104), Katie Caracciolo (T8-1016), Kate Donsky (T8-1016), Bridget Evelth (T8-1016), Peyton McGarry (T8-1016), Kerri McNelis (T8-1016), Jemma Thorne (T8-1016), Christine Purschke (T8-1203), Elise Ruggiero (T8-1981), Ciara Doherty (T8-2076), Serena Didio (T8-2076), Claire Silverstein (T8-2076), Shannon Gilfillan (T 8-2215), Ava Voight (T8-2215), and Amanda Williams (T8-2215). There are two ECLC active Girl Scouts who are Alexis Cassino and Lauren Fernandez.

The Evening Ceremony ended with the presentation of Orchids for the Troop Leaders, without whom the Girl Scouts would not have been able to achieve their Gold Awards. The Current Troop leaders are Susannah Doherty and Laura Ranji (Troop 8-2076), Sharon Moran (Troop 8-1016), Carrie Nugent and Lorraine Teisch (Troop 8-1981), Stacey Osucha and Ceal Purschke (Troop 8-1203), Barb Delaney and Beth Tunny (Troop 8-0104), and Alison Tesoriero and Jane Voight (Troop 8-2215).