THORNWOOD, N.Y. – Eleven seniors at Westlake High School were recently awarded for their volunteer work and dedication to service by receiving the Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest achievable award in the organization.
“It’s great to be involved with something for over a decade and finally really accomplish something significant,” said Mount Pleasant resident and Girl Scout Sidney Leone.
The Gold Award is obtained after performing an individual project with 70 hours of work along with 40 hours of community service and 40 hours of a paid or unpaid internship.
After the work was complete, the girls participated in a series of interviews at the Girl Scouts Heart of the Hudson headquarters in Pleasantville, which then determined if they were worthy of the award. The eleven girls from Westlake all obtained the award in late December and will be honored at a ceremony in White Plains in March.
Each girl chose an organization around Westchester County or the greater New York City area to volunteer with and give back to the community in a way that interested them the most.
“I love helping people out that are in dire need,” Jillian DiRama said, who collected and donated boxes of basic household items to underprivileged families in the Bronx. “Seeing their faces and their reaction when they received everything was so rewarding.”
Antonia Maric and Danielle Latino both volunteered to create artistic and educational scarecrow exhibits at Harvest Fest at Lyndhurst in Tarrytown. Bridget Boccio created a clothing drive for newborn babies at a hospital in the Bronx in memory of her uncle, a former obstetrician. Diana Maldonado painted and decorated an animal shelter in Elmsford. Sidney Leone raised money through a fundraiser at the Heart of Hudson headquarters to purchase audio books for handicapped students at The Center for Discovery School in Monticello. Nicole Sammavilla collected book donations for Longfellow Elementary School in Mount Vernon. Meaghan Glendon created an inspirational art display for terminally ill cancer patients in the Rosary Hill Home in Hawthorne. Nicole Abbamont, Rebecca Fallon and Lauren Zavaglia all worked to restore areas of Cranberry Lake Preserve in White Plains.
Maric said she believes the hard work that each of the girls put in breaks a stereotype of Girl Scouts.
“I feel like a lot of people think of Girl Scouts as just having fun and baking and stuff like that but a lot of it is putting in a lot of work and going out in the community to help people out,” Maric said.
Receiving the Gold Award completes the final step in Girl Scouts for each girl. Although the moment was a bitter-sweet culmination, some were relieved to be done.
“It was a huge weight lifted off my shoulders to finally receive the award and be completed with everything,” said Maldonado.