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GIRL SCOUT GOLD AWARD PROJECT: Madison Keith, Highlands Ranch, “The Lovers that Love Us”


Madison Keith pic

What did you do for your Gold Award project?

For my Gold Award project, I created a sustainable pet food pantry within St. Andrew United Methodist Church. I coordinated with four non-profit organizations: Colorado AIDS Project, Denver Urban Ministries, Denver Inner City Parish, and Interfaith Community Services. I also worked with volunteers to hand out pet food in Denver Civic Center Park through the AfterHours organization. I advertised my pet food pantry, formulated a delivery schedule, added pet food to sack lunches delivered to the homeless, ran a blog, and created informational brochures. So far, my pet food pantry has collected over 600 pounds of pet food, which is equivalent to over 2,500 pet meals. Furthermore, I created and educated various community members about my “business plan,” an outline consisting of instructions on how to construct a similarly-designed donation pantry. I spoke to four school clubs: National Honor Society, Spanish National Honor Society, Peace Jam, and Peer Counseling. In total, I educated about 125 students at ThunderRidge High School, who now have the knowledge to establish sustainable donation pantries for any product, whether it occurs in the school or further out in the community. I also spoke to a donation representative at a local recreation center, who also possesses the knowledge to set up my “business plan.”

Why did you pursue this Gold Award project?

I pursued this Gold Award project for two main reasons. To begin, I have a yellow labrador retriever named Jake. Although Jake will not retrieve, I love and adore him more than anything. I have a love for most animals, especially dogs, and I desired to help them. I also wanted to help fight financial hardship, an issue facing many families. Local families are still emerging from the Great Recession, a time when many Americans lost their jobs and relative prices on goods rose. Additionally, wildfires and floods have impacted many Coloradans the past few years. By needing more money to buy essential products and rebuild lifestyles, many people had to give up their pets or cut back on feeding them. I wanted to address this issue by providing pet food for the community, so its citizens can focus on feeding themselves and putting their money towards other important necessities. Additionally, pet food donations can be coordinated with human food donations, so an entire family can be fed at once.

How did your Gold Award project make a difference?

So far, my pantry has collected over 500 pounds of pet food, which is equivalent to about 2,000 pet meals. This pet food has been distributed through various organizations, so many can feel its benefits. I estimate that I have helped approximately 1,000 families provide food for their pets. In addition, I estimate that I educated about 125 people on the effects of poverty on pets, which some may be unfamiliar with, and how they can set up donation pantries to help any target audience. I found many people who love and support their pets, and were happy to help so others could do the same. Finally, earning my Gold Award allowed me to educate my community about the Girl Scout Gold Award. Most community members are unaware of the award and its requirements, so I was able to further promote the positive benefits of Girl Scouts. Recently, my school newspaper interviewed me about earning my Gold Award. I am proud of my accomplishments and hope to inspire other people, whether they are Girl Scouts or not, to make a difference in their local communities.

What skills did you gain through earning your Gold Award?

I learned many skills from completing my Gold Award project. First, I learned balance. My project was solely my responsibility, and if I did not work on it for a period of time, then my project would not progress. I learned to find a balance between school, my extracurricular activities, and my Gold Award. By learning a proper balance, I also improved my time management skills. I determined the times I needed to work on my project and how to use my time wisely to complete the maximum amount of activities possible. I also learned communication skills. I was forced to step out of my comfort zone and communicate with a variety of adults from the community in a professional manner. This skill was new to me, and I sometimes did not want to make phone calls. However, my communication skills with adults have improved immensely and I am confident that they will be of great assistance as I head into college. My public speaking and persuasion skills improved because I spoke at public events and various school clubs, encouraging people to donate to my cause. Finally, I learned how to be a leader. I followed my project from planning to execution, having to lead community members in ways to construct, advertise, and operate the most successful pet food pantry possible. I also led various individuals through my “business plan” so they could accomplish the same things themselves. I learned that I can really accomplish whatever I set my mind to, no matter how daunting the task may appear.

How did you make your project sustainable?

Sadly, my pet food pantry is sustainable because the issue of poverty will remain an ongoing issue. My pantry has a permanent location in my church’s Outreach Depot (a location in my church which accepts donations for various causes). When I leave for college, St. Andrew’s Outreach Coordinator Jennifer Titus and Outreach Depot Organizer Jill Kucera have agreed to continue my project. Mrs. Titus and Mrs. Kucera will include donation requests in the regular church newsletter along with any needed pantry changes. I have scheduled the pet food donations to be delivered every week to specific organizations (Colorado AIDS Project, Denver Inner City Parish, Interfaith Community Services, Denver Urban Ministries, and AfterHours in Civic Center Park) along with any human food the church is delivering that week. My siblings have also agreed to keep the pet food pantry organized. St. Andrew’s youth coordinator, Cindy Klick, has agreed to distribute pet food to various mission trip locations every summer to help maintain my global connection. This upcoming summer, my church is planning to bring pet food on mission trips to Utah and another state (still to be determined) and possibly Mexico. Finally, I will maintain my project until I leave for college (and on school breaks and summers).

What was your connection to the national or global community?

My project is connected through my speeches to my community. I gave educational speeches to students at my high school and the local recreation center on how they can create a donation pantry similar to mine. Essentially, I donated my “pet food pantry” business plan. By educating people on how to start these pantries, they have the skills to make an impact in their community and spread the business plan to other organizations and citizens. If these people choose to establish donation pantries, the Denver community can continue to solve many issues affecting its citizens. My project is also globally connected through mission trips. The youth director has agreed to distribute some pet food to various mission trips throughout the state and nation, allowing my pet food pantry to affect pets in need outside of my immediate community. Finally, my project is globally linked through my blog. I created my blog through Google sites, http://www.loversthatloveusgs.blogspot.com/, and anyone can view it. I can trace where people accessed my blog, and to date, the blog has been viewed from Texas and North Carolina. On my blog, I posted tips about running a pantry, earning the Gold Award, and proper pet care.

What will you most remember about your Gold Award project?

I will remember my education component the most. I genuinely enjoyed speaking at St. Andrew’s “Blessing of the Pets Ceremony.” I was able to talk about my love for my dog, who was part of my inspiration for my project, and about my Gold Award as a whole. After speaking, I helped bless the pets with a pastor from my church. It was an amazing feeling to speak at an entire event of pet lovers and inspire them to continue making a difference in the lives of pets. Besides speaking at this event, I also delivered my “business plan” to many clubs at school. These clubs were inspired to perform fundraising and lasting donation events similar to mine. Finally, I enjoyed running my blog and inspiring people all over the nation about Girl Scouts and pet care. I really felt that I was teaching and inspiring the world around me.

How will earning your Gold Award help you in your future?

My leadership skills will continue to grow as a result of this project. I now have developed confidence, time management, communication, presentation and organization skills, so I feel that I can be an appropriate leader in any setting. Currently, through school, I am utilizing my leadership skills in soccer, National Honor Society, Spanish National Honor Society, LINK Crew, Peer Counseling and many other clubs. I am also beginning my Senior Project, a large project required for graduation. I used to fear these projects, but now I am excited after earning my Gold Award! My communication, presentation, and leadership skills will also be used in this project. I will extend my leadership skills in college by participating in similar clubs and to continue being a role model for my younger sister. I also want to remain a leader in my community through church events, such as mission trips, and volunteer more for non-profit organizations to improve my community.

Why do you feel the Gold Award is an important part of your Girl Scout experience?

The Gold Award is an important part of my Girl Scout experience because it represents the culmination of my childhood efforts. I have been a Girl Scout in the same troop since Daisies in kindergarten. Throughout my Girl Scouting career, I have learned important life skills, including leadership, organization, and more. Girl Scouts has also provided me with some of my closest friends and blessed me a member of the loving Girl Scout community. I feel the Gold Award represents my peak accomplishment of all my Girl Scouting years and all my hard work. Additionally, my Gold Award instilled immense confidence and independence within me. After earning a prestigious award, I feel confident to enter the professional world as a woman. I believe in myself and know what I can accomplish. This award made me realize how big of an impact I can make and what I truly can accomplish.

***IMPORTANT NOTE: This blog represents only a small fraction of the hard work, dedication and requirements that go into earning a Girl Scout Gold Award. It is simply a brief summary, which is meant to inspire Girl Scouts to Go Gold in the future. For more information on earning your Gold Award, please email highestawards@gscolorado.org

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