For Girl Scouts aged 14 to 18, the Gold Award is the highest honor to be achieved, and, for many, the most challenging and life-shaping. The award requires girls to dedicate themselves to a long-term project that responds to a community's needs and affects positive change. More than a philanthropic gesture, the project requires girls to build organizational, networking and leadership skills that will, ideally, guide them throughout their lives.
Create connections between residents of retirement homes and their loved ones living afar by setting up an Internet cafe in a retirement home. Develop a list of step-by-step instructions for basic log in techniques and print large-print versions for interested residents. Include a list of popular information sites for elderly people. In addition, train volunteers on how to help elderly people use computers to register and log in to email, Skype and other social networking sites in order to promote the sustainability of the project.
Identify a major health concern in the community and develop an awareness and information program aimed at educating the community about prevention methods and treatment options. Create a display to set up during community festivals or other public events to educate community members. Develop a handout and post around neighborhoods. Blog about the issue and use Facebook or other social networking sites to promote awareness and interest in the issue, including suggestions for how other girls can join the awareness campaign.
Organize a boutique and salon project to assist low income women with dressing up for job interviews. Engage other Girl Scouts in the project to help collect high quality clothing, shoes and accessories suitable for women to wear in professional settings. Collaborate with another local community organization to set up a day for women to come to the boutique to "shop" for clothes. Encourage fellow Girl Scouts with interests in cosmetology to offer hairstyling and make-up sessions for "shoppers."
Plan a community garden project for a low income housing unit or under-served public school. Seek seed and garden tool donations to get started. Engage the community to help create the garden and provide training on how to maintain the garden through weeding, watering and fertilization. Offer healthy cooking classes for kids or young parents to learn how to prepare the fresh vegetables or fruits grown in the garden.
Katharine Mitchell began writing in 1994. She has has written for "Fodor's," "The Insider's Guide to Beijing," "Time Out", "City Weekend" and Matador. She attended the Summer Literary Seminar in St. Petersburg, Russia. Mitchell has a Master of Fine Arts in fiction from the University of Montana and a Master of Arts in English from the University of Mississippi.