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Seven Briarcliff Girl Scouts Earn Top Honors With Community Projects

Briarcliff Girl Scouts Sarah Allen, Erynn Altabef, Jacqueline Contento, Lauren Friedman, Alena Galen,  Lexi Grasso, and Allie Herskovitz have all earned Girl Scouting's top honor, the Gold Award, for their community work.
Briarcliff Girl Scouts Sarah Allen, Erynn Altabef, Jacqueline Contento, Lauren Friedman, Alena Galen, Lexi Grasso, and Allie Herskovitz have all earned Girl Scouting's top honor, the Gold Award, for their community work. Photo Credit: Provided

BRIARCLIFF, N.Y. -- Seven local Girl Scouts have earned top honors for giving back to their community, Briarcliff-Pocantico Scouting officials announced recently.

The prestigious Gold Award, earned nationwide by only 5 percent of eligible girls, is the equivalent to a Boy Scout achieving Eagle rank, they said.

To earn the award, the six Briarcliff High School Ambassador Girl Scouts and one alumna identified important community causes or issues and then created take-action projects to address them.

Each Gold Award project requires a minimum of 80 hours, Scout officials said, and demonstrates leadership, global application, and sustainability.

The winners, and their outstanding 2015 Briarcliff projects, are:

  • Sarah Allen -- “Education for Visitors of Friends and Relatives Regarding Malaria.” Sarah created a malaria prevention pamphlet in several languages and delivered educational programs at Senegalese and Haitian community centers. A post-program survey confirmed that participants acquired new knowledge about malaria prevention measures (nets, medications, repellents).
  • Erynn Altabef -- “Gardening for Hunger.” Erynn created a garden to grow healthy foods for individuals and families with food insecurity. Twice during the year, an intergenerational team plants and harvests potatoes, garlic, kale and carrots; they then deliver these vegetables to local food pantries. Over the past two years, Erynn’s garden has yielded hundreds of pounds of healthy foods.
  • Jacqueline Contento -- “Find Your Happy Place.” Focusing on the needs of homeless and economically disadvantaged children, Jacqueline worked at a homeless camp to enable many children to have a more enjoyable and enriching camp experience. Through her effective fundraising and community drives, she provided many camp supplies, as well as organized special events for the camp, including a day of play, a pizza day, and a visit from the ice cream truck. She continues to be an advocate for the homeless.
  • Lauren Friedman -- “Look-Focus-Snap.” Lauren taught children at a local community center a new lifelong skill: how to use a digital camera and make photo collages as presents. She designed a series of lesson plans, created a PowerPoint presentation and donated cameras so teachers at the center could continue the program with new groups in the future. Lauren continues to offer this program in her community.
  • Alena Galen --  “Differences Are Blessings." Alena, using her own personal journey as someone with a rare disease, wrote a children's book about her experience and developed a pamphlet to share ideas about empowerment. She delivered a series of lectures to help raise awareness and sensitivity among educators, health professionals and young people with and without special challenges.
  • Lexi Grasso -- “The Importance of Nutrition and Hydration for Female Athletes.” Lexi created and distributed a brochure based on national nutritional guidelines to guide young female athletes on how to properly fuel and hydrate their bodies for maximum effectiveness.
  • Allie Herskovitz -- “Monarch Migration Matters: A Project of Waystation Gardens, Education and Advocacy.” The historical monarch butterfly migration is severely threatened by loss of milkweed habitat, Scout leaders said. To address this catastrophe, Allie worked with an intergenerational team to create three monarch waystations in two communities, developed a variety of stand-alone educational programs for children and adults, and initiated a campaign of letter writing and emails to state and national leaders.

The seven will formally receive their awards in March 2016 when Girl Scouts also celebrates the 100th anniversary of the Gold Award.

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