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Communities win when Girl Scouts go for gold

by LISA SHADE Special to the Gazette on July 05, 2014 10:49 AM

To some, going gold means being the winner — the fastest, the most competitive, the one who fought the hardest.

For Girl Scouts, going gold means earning the highest achievement in Girl Scouting, the Gold Award. This award recognizes girls in grades nine through 12 who demonstrate extraordinary leadership through sustainable and measurable projects that address important community needs.

Girl Scouts Western Pennsylvania celebrated 26 outstanding girls for earning the Girl Scout Gold Award on June 8 at the Rustic Lodge in White Township:

• Emily Anuszek

• Alexis Brink

• Megan Farrell

• Rachel Gaddis

• Holly Harlin

• Emma Jeanne Held

• Jesse Hinkle

• Carly Izydore

• Anna Kafferlin

• Danielle Kepple

• Alexandria Lacombe

• Michelle Long

• Mallory Milberger

• Kelcey Jo Miller

• Tiffany Mulligan

• Katelin Omencinski

• Sarah Peterson

• Taylor Reimold

• Ember Rensel

• Melissa Richards

• Ashley Riser

• Heather Rose

• Nichole Schneider

• Katelin Shreve

• Katie Stupar

• Stephanie Vighetti

They were presented their awards in front of more than 100 guests.

Making the world better

After a local house fire harmed two young children, Michelle Long saw a need to help preschoolers in her community learn about home safety and fire prevention.

For her Gold Award project, Michelle created a program at Adams Memorial Library in Latrobe to help kids learn the skills to stay safe. She designed instructional games, crafts and songs to help children learn about fire prevention and how to prepare an escape plan if a fire occurs.

Michelle developed a syllabus of how to teach small children fire safety and presented it to people in her community who work with preschoolers. By training members of the community and sharing her resources, the impact of Michelle’s project will continue to educate local children long after she earns her Gold Award pin.


Each Scout who plans to earn her Gold Award is paired with an adviser who provides her guidance, experience and expertise as she works to complete her project. Betty Schendel, a former troop leader and chairwoman of GSWPA’s Travel Pathways committee, served as Michelle’s adviser.

Schendel said she was impressed by Michelle’s project from the start because of the need for education on fire prevention and safety in the community.

“This is a rural area where many children aren’t in preschool or day care,” Schendel said. “Michelle’s project helps young children learn how to stay safe long before they enter kindergarten.”

“Gold Award recipients do more than achieve recognition,” said Patricia A. Burkart, CEO of Girl Scouts Western Pennsylvania. “Through their Gold Award projects, they create meaningful and lasting changes that make their communities better places to live.”


Not only do Gold Award projects help communities, they also give girls important leadership skills, teaching them to seek out the work that needs to be done in the world.

There are other benefits to going gold as well. Some universities and colleges offer scholarships unique to Gold Award recipients, and girls who enlist in the U.S. armed forces may receive advanced rank in recognition of their achievements.

In Pennsylvania, some of the colleges that offer scholarships to girls who earn the Gold Award are Chatham College, Temple University Ambler and Wilson College.


Since 1916, girls just like the 26 Girl Scouts who were honored locally have successfully answered the call to go gold, an act that indelibly marks them as accomplished members of their communities and the world.

Gold Award advisers are changing the world by supporting and guiding the girls who will change it. For information about becoming an adviser or joining the Gold Award committee, contact Renee Watson at (800) 248-3355, ext. 1009, or email

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