SOMERVILLE, NJ –Seated around a square table in the middle of the display space at Gems & Stems, the young ladies were intent on the task at hand, selecting just the right flowers for their bouquets.
Store owner Mallori Seader carefully explained to the girls each step of the flower arranging process, naming the flowers, their colors, asking the girls what were their favorites – tulips, sun flowers, roses, lilies and daisies topped their list.
The girls each made a bouquet of white pom poms and baker ferns which were wrapped in cellophane.
The troop asked Seader if she could make a special bouquet for one of their teachers who is ill. She obliged with a smile, guided by the girls, making several trips to the refrigerated glass cabinet to gather roses, tulips, sun flowers, alstro meria and carnations. One of the girls came up front to tie the bow around the vase.
The collective smile on the faces of the girls was as bright and cheerful as the flowers spread across the table.
Seader’s partner, Joseph Clancy, stayed in the background, shooting a video of the girls as they worked.
Dressed proudly in their green vests the Girl Scouts of Troop 60884 all attend the Midland School in North Branch. Midland School is a special education school for children with developmental disabilities. More than 90 school districts send students to the school which focuses on the students’ social, emotional and academic needs as well as career training.
The girls meet with their leaders twice a month and take field trips to earn the patches, pins and badges arranged on their vests, a proud reflection where they have been, what they have done and what they have learned.
Seader lavished the girls with praise and kindness, reinforced by the troop leaders, Suzy Frank, Nancy Fitzgerald and Kathy Andia, all of whom have been with the troop for 20 years, and and Bev Kelly, now in her third year.
“We try to teach the girls to be independent through these projects,” Frank said.
Each of the girls was called to the front of room by Seader, where she presented them with a certificate acknowledging their work and newfound knowledge, as well as a goody bag.
The girls also taught Seader a new skill – sign language.
“This was a great experience, I can’t wait to do another program with the school,” Seader said. “It was really rewarding."