NORTH SALEM, N.Y.— A total of nine Girl Scouts from North Salem received their Gold Awards this year. Seven of them were on hand at a ceremony on March 11 at the Poughkeepsie Grand Hotel in Poughkeepsie which honored 110 scouts from across the Hudson Valley.

Senior Girl Scout Leader Bonnie Feniger said the Gold Award statistics are pretty high for North Salem. Nationally, about 5 percent of Girl Scouts go on to earn their Gold Award. In the Hudson Valley, that figure is about 20 percent. In North Salem, between 50 and 60 percent of Girl Scouts achieve their Gold Award.

Erik Andersen, board president of Girl Scouts Heart of the Hudson, delivered the address at the ceremony.

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“My advice to any Gold Award candidate is, if it was worth completing, it is worth being proud of,” Andersen said. He noted that the award has evolved in design and name. While it reflects original ideals of a scout exhibiting moral maturity and outstanding leadership, it also represents the scouts’ ability and skill in goal setting, planning, putting values into action and delegating to the community.

The event was attended by several local dignitaries including the chairman of the Westchester County Board of Legislators, Mike Kaplowitz, and Rockland County Executive Ed Day.

Below is a list of the Girl Scouts and the projects that earned them their Gold Awards.

Claire Bonzani - Troop 2850 “ Puzzles for a Purpose” 

Claire worked on bringing a therapeutic and fun puzzle cart to the residents of Carnegie East nursing home in New York City who are struggling with memory disorders. She researched which puzzles to include with the help of her mentor, a speech therapist.  Claire also spent time with the residents, running one-on-one workshops to get their feedback.  her project ended with the donation of her puzzle cart to the nursing home, and a creation of a website to inform the public about therapeutic puzzles. 

Charlotte Coughlin - Troop 1148 - “Kid Trail Guide for the North Salem Open Land Foundation” 

Charlotte’s goal was to address the issue of Durant Preserve not being well-known in her community.  She lead hikes, organized trail cleanup days, and made a child-friendly guide/map to make it more fun for kids to take a hike.

Olivia DeSanto - Troop 2850 “For the Love of Reading”

Olivia shared her own love of reading by reaching out to over 200 students both in and out of her community to educate them about the value and benefits of reading.  She spent time with them discussing and recommending books and topics for them to read and enrich their lives for both now and in the future.   She also held a book drive, collecting over 3,500 books to donate to Friends of the Bridgeport Library in Connecticut and organizations in Massachusetts. 

Alina DiMella - Troop 2850 “Brave and Beautiful”

Alina’s project focused on the self-confidence of cancer survivors and breast cancer awareness.  She spread her message that everyone is brave and beautiful no matter what they have been through.   Cancer doesn’t define anyone.  She used her love of fashion to organize and put on a fashion show utilizing cancer survivor models.  She donated the proceeds raised from the event to Support Connection Inc., of Yorkton to help them provide yoga classes for their clients to promote confidence.

Amy Fetterolf - Troop 2850 “Middle School 101”

In her project, Amy worked with middle school girls on how to manage their time efficiently and live a stress-free life.   She taught them methods to budget time and deal with stress.  In order to appeal to the specific problems of each grade level, she handed out surveys discussing certain causes of stress.  At the end of each session, the students received stress balls and bath mixes and many great tips. 

Dana Kopser - Troop 2245 “Book Exchange”

The library exchange took place at YMCA Camp Fuller in Wakefield, Rhode Island.  Campers had no reading materials, so books and shelves were donated by the community and Dana delivered them to Camp Fuller.   She painted, provided shelving and worked with the children during reading periods during summer camp.  Flyers were sent to five other YMCA camps on the East Coast teaching them how to implement the program in their areas.

Colleen McCarthy - Troop 2025 “Smiles for Scout”

Colleen created Smiles for Scout to bring joy, affection and comfort to those who need it the most.   Scout, a miniature horse, was trained to be a certified as a therapy horse, and has touched the lives of many people in a way that only animals can.  Scientific studies have proven that animal interactions lower stress, reduces blood pressure and stimulates the release of endorphins. 

Analisa Posa - Troop 2850 “Teen Friends of the Ruth Keeler Memorial Library”

Analisa began a teen girls book club at her local library, wanting to encourage teens to read and discuss literature.  She began a monthly book club that has been running for over a year and still continues.  She proposed that the library modify its space to be more welcoming for teens to use.  She worked with the Library Board and assisted in obtaining a $2,500 grant to help fund these new programs.

Simone Schnarwiler - Troop 2949 “Songs for Soldiers”

Veterans in America do not always receive the best healthcare or benefits that they deserve.  The objective of her project was to improve the mental health of veterans through music by improving the music therapy program at the Veterans Hospital in Montrose, New York.  Simone created a positive impact on the mental health of the veterans who are a part of the program.