Sixteen-year-old Sophia Palia was recognized at Homefirst’s annual Community Garden Volunteer Celebration on October 10, 2012 at Homefirst’s Family Success Center with a glass-etched plaque. Her year-long Girl Scout Gold Award project to create a Community Garden manual turned into an eighteen page reference guide which will be utilized by Homefirst’s future garden volunteers.

Sophia’s reference guide not only details how to build and maintain a garden, but also shows how the small act of raising a seedling can unite a community. She personally oversaw the creation of seed packets, monitored the growth of a variety of seedlings, helped host planting day in May and was active throughout the growing season. Health and wellness education is just one of the many ways Homefirst works with our families to further their self-empowerment. Sophia was an integral part of those efforts by introducing garden-themed activities, and easy and nutritious recipes to engage all who enter the garden. Ultimately, the Community Garden volunteers harvested over 800 pounds of fresh produce from Homefirst’s two gardens.

Over 100 hours of work were carefully overseen by Homefirst’s Executive Director, Ellen McGovern, and Troop Advisor Carla Bonacci. Ellen commented, “Sophia’s project was an immense undertaking and her journey has taken nearly a year and a half. Her efforts will be ongoing as Homefirst is currently planning a third location for spring planting.”

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The Girl Scout Gold Award recipients are part of an elite group and Homefirst is proud for Sophia Palia to have found her project inspiration with the organization and for her willingness to share her ideas and passion with her greater neighborhood. 


** Homefirst delivers comprehensive solutions to homelessness by providing transitional and permanent housing, homeless prevention assistance and family support services to strengthen families and build communities.