Girl Scouts of Western New York is proud to announce Alaina Roberts of North Tonawanda, NY, as a 2022 Gold Award Girl Scout. Alaina is a member of Troop 70268.
What Alaina said about Girl Scouts
My Girl Scout days have crafted my life’s moments and have made me a better person ready to face the world and make positive changes. I will always be grateful for the guidance of leaders whose selfless lessons instilled the pursuit for adventure, the quest for knowledge, and the passion of volunteerism. The Girl Scout Law and Girl Scout Promise are the embodiment of who I am, and I will uphold them as I embark on my college journey and carry them with me throughout my life’s adventure.
Project: Prayer & Meditation Community Garden
On March 13, 2020, my favorite Spanish class was learning how to conjugate verbs; the next moment, I suddenly had two weeks off school due to an illness referred to as COVID-19. Two weeks became a month and, without any closure, the school year had ended without a final concert, one last musical performance, one final dance, and without a proper graduation for many friends. It was the norm to be afraid of another person walking his dog on the same sidewalk, crossing the street to avoid possible contamination. I missed hugging my grandparents and sitting next to my friends. Instead, I rode my bicycle to visit from the sidewalk and drew on their driveways in chalk for their birthdays. I saw sadness and defeat as our world drowned in this illness, claiming lives of good people and forcing restrictions on activities and proximities to try and heal our world.
Sadness is not easy to overcome. Sometimes, it feels simpler to be swallowed. It’s easier to join the crowd rather than stand out, but as the days of COVID-19 lingered and stories of depression filled my newsfeed, it was time for something to be done. And I could not wait for someone else to do it. It had to be me.
Being outside in the fresh air always makes me feel better. There’s something about the breeze calming my worry and the rejuvenation of seeing flowers bloom and birds sing. Home gardening was not enough. I saw a need to be a difference and make a place for others to feel a sense of calmness and serenity. My idea was born, supported by my family, friends, church congregation, and Thrivent Financial.
There was a large plot of land adjacent to my church on Oliver Street in North Tonawanda. After sharing my idea with the council, receiving their approval, and securing an area, the time had come to build a prayer and meditation garden for the community. My ambition was high, but my planning needed work. I was not an architect, but I had the power of the internet for ideas and inspiration. I also started spreading the word about my plan. The more I spoke of this idea, the more excitement I felt in myself and others. What surprised me the most was how many people were not only eager to spend time in the future garden, but many wanted to help me make it happen. I channeled my “once-sadness” to business and creativity, and suddenly I was leading others to do the same.
With more and more volunteers came increasing amounts of ideas of what the garden should be. As everyone’s excitement grew, so did the amount of ideas. One wanted a bird sanctuary, another wanted benches, many wanted to donate perennials from home gardens, more wanted to paint rocks to enhance the ambiance, and some wanted sunshine while others wanted shade. After many deep breaths, I did my best to combine the ideas, not only make everyone happy, but to make everyone feel that their idea was important. What had started as “my idea” had evolved to a community of ideas destined to help many people.
I have learned to expect change. I had to learn to “roll with the punches.” So, when the exact garden site had to be changed on the morning of construction due to strong roots that the rototillers could not pass, I took a deep breath and re-routed the plan. I saw how others followed my lead and accepted the plan, making changes along the way as necessary.
We were gifted with beautiful sunshine and the hours passed quickly. Hands became stained in dirt, wheelbarrows emptied numerous loads of mulch, flats of stunning annuals filled the ground, wooden birdhouses found homes in the trees, and stone paths were laid among the flowers. Volunteers saw individual perennials find homes in a community garden and felt a sense of belonging. As I stood back to admire, this had become so much more than a garden; it was a community project of pride and beauty, and I hoped it would bring joy and comfort for many years.
The prayer and meditation garden was dedicated to our community in August. Eyes simply see the distinct stone path, colorful annuals and perennials, trees filled with birdhouses, beds filled with painted rocks of inspiration, and garden flags blowing in the breeze. I see the people who cultivated and planted the beauty, my volunteers who built the benches, and the many who dedicated their time and talent for an amazing project suited to fill so many needs.
The beautiful community garden welcomes anyone. It has caught tears of sadness and tears of joy. Some come to meditate and feel at peace, while others come to pray for a miracle. It is a quiet place to relax, recharge and reflect with tranquility and serenity innate to its nature. It is remarkable how much good it brought through the willing volunteers and work it required; such loveliness remains. Cultivating goodness brought together people looking for purpose, resulting in a community place of fulfillment and joy.
About the Girl Scout Gold Award
The Gold Award project is the culmination of all the work a girl puts into “going for the Gold.” A Girl Scout’s project should be something that a girl can be passionate about—in thought, deed, and action that encompasses organizational, leadership, and networking skills. The project should also fulfill a need within a girl’s community (whether local or global) and create change that has the potential to be on-going or sustainable. Approximately 80 hours of community service are involved in the project. Completion of the Gold Award also qualifies the Girl Scout for special scholarship opportunities and she can enlist in the military at a higher starting pay grade.
The Girl Scout Gold Award, the most prestigious award in the world for girls, acknowledges the power behind each recipient’s dedication to not only empowering and bettering herself, but also to making the world a better place for others. These young women are courageous leaders and visionary change makers.
The Gold Award requires a Girl Scout to identify an issue and investigate it to understand what can be done to address the problem. The girl then forms a team to act as a support system, including a project advisor close to the issue who is not a troop leader or family member, while she leads the project. The Girl Scout creates a plan to ensure they know what steps they must tackle while working on the project. The Girl Scout submits a proposal for her project to her local Girl Scout council. After acceptance, the girl begins to work through the steps of their plan utilizing the assistance of her support team where necessary. Lastly, the project is used to educate and inspire others about the cause they are addressing.
For more information on the Gold Award, click here.