Volunteer Projects Make a Lasting Community Impact in Monmouth and Ocean Counties

JERSEY SHORE  – Addressing loneliness among kids and seniors, growing vegetables for neighbors in need, fostering literacy and supporting the well-being of animals are among the community projects recently completed by 17 Girl Scouts from Monmouth County on their pathway to earn the Girl Scout Silver Award.    

Girl Scouts of the Jersey Shore presented the Silver Award to the girls at a ceremony on Nov. 20 at its Program Activity Center in Farmingdale. Twenty Scouts from Ocean County were also honored with the Silver Award, the highest honor for Girl Scouts in sixth through eighth grade. To earn the award, Girl Scouts must fulfill several requirements, including taking on a community project that makes a lasting impact. In the process, girls develop organization and leadership skills that benefit their community.   

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“We are truly proud of the impact that our Silver Award Girl Scouts have made in their communities,” said Eileen M. Higgins, CEO, Girl Scouts of the Jersey Shore. “Collectively, they devoted over 1,800 hours toward making their communities a better place to live.”

Here are highlights of the community projects in Monmouth County and the Girl Scout Silver Award honorees who completed them: 

The Importance of Early Education
Amy Tatarka, Aberdeen
Amy focused on how education helps with emotional, social, and physical development in young children. The project also looked at the impact of early childhood education on adults, such as improved social skills and engagement. Amy also focused on the role early childhood education plays on performance in school as children grow. Amy wanted to demonstrate that an early introduction to a school setting sets a positive tone for young children.

Latino Community Catholic School Outreach
Olivia Ulrich, Ariana Granatelli, Lauren Hewski, Aberdeen
This team addressed the decreasing enrollment at Saint Benedict School by creating a campaign to encourage Latino student attendance. They translated marketing materials for distribution at recruitment events, such as the Saint Benedict Parish Carnival, the Fall and Spring Open Houses and Catholic Schools Week.

Buddy Benches
Alice Edwards, Freehold
Alice worked with guidance counselors at the Freehold Learning Center to address the issue of loneliness in school-age children. The benches were installed as a safe place for kindergartens when they feel as though they need a friend. Alice also worked with teachers at the school to create a YouTube video and informational materials for teachers and parents.

Building Literacy One Shelf at a time
Taylor Douglas, Tyler Douglas, Freehold

Tyler and Taylor worked with Maddason Rush of Jackson to encourage reading at Little PALs Preschool in Howell. They read to the toddlers, built two bookshelves and donated books. Through these activities, the girls inspired younger students to enjoy reading and writing.

Children's Library Enhancement Through Art
Amelia Petretti, Holmdel
Amelia helped local libraries refinish their children’s book areas with colorful artwork. Amelia focused on the connection between art and academic achievement, social and emotional development, civic engagement, and equitable opportunity.

Engaging Senior Citizens
Mira Shah, Holmdel 
Mira encouraged seniors to socialize with others living in their community. Mira observed that senior citizens often stick to a daily routine; her project focused on working with local nursing homes and engaging the residents. Mira, along with her team, motivated residents through activities, games, and music and brought a positive impact to the nursing homes where she volunteered.

Supporting Shelter Animal Well Being
Elina Patel, Holmdel
Elina’s project tackled the issue of homeless pets and focused on her deep love of animals. Elina raised awareness in her community by hosting an “Animal Shelter Awareness Day.” She, along with her team, placed bins throughout her town and collected items for donations and hosted an event at her local library. During this event, Elina taught members of the public how to craft dog toys that could then be donated.

A Helping Paw Project
Caleigh Di Lella, Howell
Caleigh wanted to raise awareness about overcrowded animal shelters and show ways the community can help, even when unable to adopt a pet. Caleigh hosted a pet drive to collect supplies that were donated to local shelters and hosted an informational session where she showed how to craft pet toys for donation.

Pollination Station
Meghan Guinee, Cadence Peterman, Kaylee Piech, Howell
This group created a pollinator garden to promote a healthy bee population. The garden includes two garden boxes with a variety of wildflowers and two benches. On Sept. 20, Howell Mayor Teresa Berger dedicated the garden to the Howell Organic Community Gardens at a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Hospital Happiness
Leila Montani, Marlboro
Leila created care packages for children ages 2-8 receiving treatment at the CentraState Medical Center in Freehold. Each package included toys and games. They were distributed by hospital staff when admitting children for treatment. Leila’s goal was to provide a bit of happiness to children who might otherwise be nervous or scared.

Pillows for Patients
Prema Shah, Marlboro
Pillows for Patients provided comfort for patients of all ages in area hospitals. Through her project, Prema worked with grade school children and taught students how to sew, an important life skill. Through her sewing demonstrations, Prema was able to donate over 100 pillows to Monmouth Medical Center. 

Garden for the Poor
Gabriella Graham, Middletown
Gabriella built a raised vegetable garden at The Barn for the Poorest of the Poor in Middletown. Her garden featured over 10 varieties of vegetables and herbs, which were distributed to soup kitchens, such as Lunch Break and the Salvation Army in Red Bank and even into New York City. As part of her project, Gabriella regularly tended the garden. Through her project, she addressed the issue of world hunger on a local scale. She was able to feed those in her community now and for years to come.

Additionally, a group of Girl Scouts from Brick Township created “The Lazy Daisy Trail” at Camp Sacajawea located in Farmingdale. The trail includes hand-cast trail markers with informational stops where nature lovers can learn about themes and outdoor skills.  The girls also installed bat boxes, birdhouses, and a butterfly garden along the way.

About Girl Scouts of the Jersey Shore
Girl Scouts of the Jersey Shore serves more than 10,000 girls ages 5-18 in Monmouth and Ocean counties, providing a time-tested leadership experience that inspires and motivates them to take action for themselves and their communities. For over 100 years, Girl Scouts has helped girls become women of courage, confidence and character, who make the world a better place. For information on how to join, volunteer, partner, or donate, visit gsfun.org or call (800) 785-2090.