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Gold Award Girl Scout: Emerald Doyle, Colorado Springs, “One Nation Donation”

What did you do for your Gold Award project?

I read in The Gazette newspaper in March of 2019 that the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation had devastating flooding. They were in need of non-perishable food, so my sisters and I initially did a food drive in our immediate neighborhood and collected 1,200 pounds of food in two weeks for One Nation Walking Together to bring up to Pine Ridge in South Dakota. After doing that initial food drive in April of 2019, I really enjoyed helping the reservation so much that I decided to continue doing these worthwhile food drives. Pine Ridge Indian Reservation is one of the poorest communities in our country with over 33% of homes without water, electricity, and heat.

I also found out from Kathy Turzi, the Executive Director of One Nation Walking Together, that young girls cannot even afford to buy feminine hygiene products, so they generally miss a week of school a month.  Missing school month after month, these girls become so behind that they eventually drop out. And, that was not okay with me at all. I was an orphan in China until I was adopted at age 11 and I virtually never went to school at all. I have only been here several years in America, but I cannot imagine not having the chance to go to school.  When I heard about this hygiene problem, I really wanted to help the girls stay in school and not drop out and give up. So, I concentrated on collecting non-perishable food and feminine hygiene products.

I used a map of the City of Colorado Springs and did eight total food drives passing out flyers door-to-door to 300 houses at a time. I walked 126 miles in total and covered 2,400 houses! I also had my Girl Scout Troop 921 help pass out flyers on one food drive, did a four-week food drive with the downtown Rotary Club of Colorado Springs, and a three week food drive with the Rotary Interact Club at Palmer High School, and did a two week food drive with Habitat for Humanity and a food drive with the Palmer Alumni Association as well.

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

As we picked up the food around town during each food drive, everything we gathered was weighed so that we knew just how much food and hygiene products were collected. I then took everything during one of my lunch periods at school and dropped off weekly at One Nation Walking Together so they could distribute everything. We are still getting donations, and my initial goal was to raise 4,000 pounds. So far, we have collected over 4,200 pounds total with 3,043 of food, 375 pounds of feminine hygiene products, and 844 pounds of furniture and clothing. Due to snow days, I am still working Habitat for Humanity’s food drive and the Palmer Alumni Association where I have been asked to be a guest speaker about this project and have a food drive as well, so I hope to reach over 4,500 pounds of food, or 300 more pounds.

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

I received commitments to continue future food drives from my Girl Scout Troop 921, the downtown Rotary Club of Colorado Springs, and a retired firefighter I met on one of my food drives.

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

My global connection is through the Rotary Club of Colorado Springs and the immense impact this group has on the world. Rotary is the largest community service based organization in the world and to have them interested in continuing food drives in the future is huge to me.  I am also proud to have my Girl Scout troop continue these food drives to help inspire the young girls to help others and perhaps do a Gold Award project like this one for themselves.

What did you learn about yourself?

I quickly learned that 300 houses for each food drive was a lot to manage, but as I did a food drive and collected more and more food and hygiene products and dropped everything off at One Nation, that they were so happy and grateful that it made me proud and wanting to do more and more drives. I started to get calls on furniture and clothing and my parents helped me pick up all sorts of things including donated heaters, tents, baby cribs, and sofas.

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

I know that I can do anything. I was an orphan my whole life and lived in China, I knew that I was taken care of, but I never went to school until age 11 when I came to this country. I was also told I was just a girl and couldn’t do anything because I was a girl. Coming here to the U.S., I know from my family and through Girl Scouts that I CAN DO ANYTHING- that girls CAN do anything! I know now that something like this award is very, very hard work and determination and takes initiative and team work to pull it all together.

I also know that I have a great family, Ms Aneida and Ms. Belinda my Girl Scout leaders, Ms. Turzi from One Nation; Ms. Caryn and Miss Samantha and Mr.Rodney with the COS Rotary Club; Ms. Michelle with the Palmer Alumni Association; Ms. Alvarez and Dr. Bach with the Palmer Interact Rotary Club; Mr. Jeff and Ms. Kris with Habitat; and Ms. Reddan my Girl Scout council mentor. I have a group of supporters that cheer me on and believe in me and my project. I feel that even though I walked 126 miles and 2,400 houses virtually by myself, I was able to do this project with the support of a whole bunch of people who supported and believed in me and what I was trying to accomplish. I am thankful they helped me so much.

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

I am so proud and happy to have gotten my Gold Award. My mom got her Gold Award over 40 years ago, but she says it was called a First Class then and was a lot different. I am sad that this is my last year to be in my troop with Ms. Aneida and Ms. Belinda, sell Girl Scout Cookies, and everything, especially camping. I feel like doing this Gold Award is like graduating from high school, which I will do on May 20 from Palmer High School. It is a culmination of a big part of my life. I feel the Gold Award has prepared me to actively help others less fortunate than me and I hope I have had an impact on them and their futures, especially the girls and helping them not give up and stay in school on the reservation.

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

I think I really was a “go-getter.” My mom had to explain these to me- I am still learning English, but I think that go-getter sounds most like me. I do not know any of these Native Americans at the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, but I don’t need to know them to understand that they are desperate for help and assistance. My adopted mom says that I had three “moms” in my life. I had my birth mom, whom I never knew and left me at the orphanage at about 15 days old. I had my “second” mom, who raised me at the orphanage and where we just had enough to eat and survive with 60 kids there; and my mom and dad, who adopted me at age 11 and always say, “there’s always enough” whether she’s talking to me about what’s for dinner, whether I can compete in a tennis match, or ace a Chinese exam. I always have enough skill or mental focus or whatever I need. A go-getter is someone who does something not because they are told to, but despite how hard it is does it anyway, and tries to make a difference. I tried to make sure “there’s ‘enough'” for this reservation that clearly doesn’t have enough in their everyday lives.

**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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