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Girl Scout Gold Award Project: Makala Roggenkamp, Arvada, “The Need to Read”

What did you do for your Gold Award project?

For my Gold Award, I worked with Hope House to target lower literacy levels found in teen mothers and their children. I created book templates for each child to bring home so that they feel more comfortable in class and to promote the joy of reading. I also installed a Free Little Library at Hope House’s new location to make books easily accessible.

How did you measure the impact your Gold Award project made on your target audience?

My impact will be noticed as the children become more excited to go to class and the mothers begin to feel more comfortable leaving their kids in the daycare. I also hope to see the children have more of a desire to interact with books and learn to love reading. One night I was at Hope House in the daycare, there was a little boy who was in tears when his mom left, so my volunteer and I showed him the book, some extra paper, and crayons and he was back to normal in seconds. It turned out that he loved coloring and he spent the whole night at the table working on his book.

How is your project sustainable? How will your project continue to impact after your involvement? 

My project will be sustained beyond my involvement by a few different people. I had 70 copies of the books printed (50 toddler & 20 infant) and gave them to Hope House so they can start this project with my assistance. Hope House has been given the template for the books with instructions. They have a printer and plan on continuing to print books as needed and work on the books with new children that come to Hope House. My Free Little Library is meant to be self-sustainable, but that is not something that I am going to ask of low income mothers. Instead, I have partnered with the 8th grade girls Bible class at Faith Christian Middle School and their teacher. They do fundraising for Hope House every year and then visit the home to see the campus and learn about their programs. Along with that work, they will be adding a book drive and Library upkeep so that the house will not be left empty or with rundown books. I completed the first book drive this year and it ran for a week. I made postcards to address the mission of the book drive and hand out during my presentation of my Gold Award project to my Bible class. As a result, I collected 206 adult and children’s books for the Little Library. I involved classmates and teachers in the drive and was able to share more about what Hope House does and how they can be involved. The extra books will be given to Hope House to either restock between upkeep visits or to use with their own discretion.

What is your project’s global and/or national connection?

To create a national and/or global link for my project, I created a blog. Lauren Hasz helped me to create a blog and make posts. I have discussed my journey with Girl Scouts and Hope House in this project with all the ups and downs, so younger girls reading it may take away something to help them with their future Gold projects. My blog is hopehousegoldproject.wordpress.com and I plan on keeping it updated even after my project is over. I have shared my blog on multiple social media sites and had my friends and family shared it so that I can get more views. I have shared it with my team members, Hope House, my old Girl Scout troop in Maryland, and Step by Step. Hope House also has contacts with organizations like themselves around the country. So far, I have reached out to Step by Step in Seattle and I plan on talking to all of the connections Hope House has shared with me. Hope House has awarded me with “Volunteer of the Month” and they also are setting up a date to interview me for their blog. They have also shared my work on their Facebook page. I decided to purchase a book house with The Free Little Library that will require finishing construction. I made this decision based on the fact that once my library is installed it will be registered on their website. This means that it will be put on their map with a blurb about my location/project once Hope House is ready for instillation. This is a free service that can help me spread the word even further about my works.

What did you learn about yourself?

In this project, I really learned how to communicate. Having to involve so many people in the process at times was a pain, but I learned how to contact people that had skills that I needed, set up a coffee date, and come with an agenda so that I could use our time wisely. Having conversations on the phone has never been something that I have been awesome at, I’ve always opted for emails, but with this project I had to call many people and I had to learn how to become comfortable with that. I learned that I am a personable person and that I can adapt to different situations well. My experience with my first contact at Hope House going on maternity leave reinforced these skills. I’ve also had to learn how to recover from rejection which has opened my eyes to the fact that I am more resilient and stronger than I knew. It was a humbling experience to have your ideas turned down. It taught me to push through and keep my eye on my goals. Having to work with a team was a new challenge since I am usually one that likes to work on things alone. I do think it was definitely beneficial to have them helping me out and teaching me how to do new things.

How will earning your Gold Award impact you in the future?

Earning my Gold Award will impact my future because I will always be able to say that I accomplished my goal of completing it. I had so many bumps along the way that taught me how to deal with changes in plans. Knowing that I completed my project has boosted my self confidence in so many ways. It will also help me in the future with my communication skills. I hope to work in a field that involves a lot of vital communication and planning. Having completed this project, I can confidently say that those skills have grown exponentially.

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

I have been in Girl Scouts since I was five. I earned my Bronze and Silver Awards, so it felt natural to finish up strong. That wasn’t the easiest decision, but I have no regrets. It has helped to validate my being in Girl Scouts still. Most girls drop out after fourth grade, and at times I wondered what I was still doing here. But during my Gold process, I realized that my work in Girl Scouts was not finished yet and I still had an impact to be made.

How did earning your Gold Award help you become a G.I.R.L. (go-getter, innovator, risk-taker, leader)? 

Earning my Gold Award helped me to become a go-getter. I have always been a very driven person, but I felt pretty beat down for the first half of my project. I was honestly ready to quit multiple times, but I realized that I needed to finish my work with Girl Scouts for more than just myself. I also had to learn perseverance and how to become a go-getter while working with Hope House. Trying to bring a big team into a small non-profit is impossible, but by working with Girl Scouts and Hope House, we found a way to make it work.

**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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