Blaine Girl Scout troop members gain honor, help community

Two members of a Blaine Girl Scout troop have achieved that organization’s highest honor and helped the community in the process.

Maddy Gosselin created this garden as part of her Girl Scout Gold Award project. Photo submitted

Maddy Gosselin created this garden as part of her Girl Scout Gold Award project. Photo submitted

Maddy Gosselin, a Spring Lake Park High School junior, and Darby Winrich, also a high school junior, earned the Gold Award after completing projects in late summer 2011.

Both teens worked on improvement projects at the Lee Carlson Center for Mental Health and Well-Being in Fridley.

Gosselin’s project was to create a garden area that would represent health and life for the center’s clients and neighboring community.

She recruited fellow Girl Scouts, volunteers and businesses to help design and construct the garden.

Some of the employees helped plant flowers, Gosselin said.  She also created a manual for others to follow in her stead.

Gosselin joined Girl Scouts in grade school because she had friends in the organization. “It sounded like fun,” she said.

Those early field trips and other activities are some of Gosselin’s fondest Girl Scout memories.

While she enjoyed her early Girl Scout activities, Gosselin is proud of her accomplishment. “It feels like I can make a difference in the world,” she said.

Volunteers helped Darby Winrich (right) redesign the lobby of the Lee Carlson Center for Mental Health and Well-Being. Photo submitted

Volunteers helped Darby Winrich (right) redesign the lobby of the Lee Carlson Center for Mental Health and Well-Being. Photo submitted

Winrich, who now lives in Cleburne, Texas, acknowledged complaints from clients and staff at Lee Carlson Center for Mental Health about an outdated and unwelcoming lobby and worked to address those needs.

“Their lobby was in rough shape,” Winrich said.

She organized and delegated a team to assist with the funding and manpower to renovate the lobby space. Winrich aimed to provide a positive, warm and welcoming space for current and future patients and staff.

The former Blaine resident donated the extra paint purchased from her project for future upkeep and also educated staff members on how to seek and obtain options for future upkeep donations.

The project was a perfect fit for Winrich, who plans to major in interior design in college.

Winrich began Girl Scouts at the youngest level as a Daisy Scout.

As she continued through the ranks, Winrich she became more interested in the group’s activities.

“It was more about doing charity projects,” the high school junior said. “It was more real life.”

She also enjoyed doing projects with her friends and taking trips with fellow Girl Scouts.

To earn the gold award, a Girl Scout must dedicate herself to completing a project that addresses a need in her community and makes a lasting difference. High school age Scouts must also fulfill requirements related to leadership, career exploration and community service.

Before beginning their Girl Scout Gold Award project, girls must complete pre-requisites that allow them to discover new skills, connect with others and take action to address a local or global issue or need and brainstorm innovative ways to solve these problems. Each girl must take leadership in planning and implementing her project, and work with others in the community to act on her plan.

“The girls are passionate about their gold awards because it is the girls who see the need in their community and commit their time and talent to the betterment of everyone who lives there,” said Linda Keene, chief executive officer of Girl Scouts of Minnesota and Wisconsin River Valleys. “When our girls achieve this level of accomplishment while still in high school, we cannot wait to see what they will do for their communities in the future.”

In the past year, Girl Scouts of Minnesota and Wisconsin River Valleys Gold and Silver awardees collectively contributed more than 25,790 hours to make the world a better place. The 83 local gold award recipients will be honored during springtime ceremonies in Owatonna and Minneapolis. River Valleys consistently sees about 10 percent of the council’s eligible Girl Scouts achieve their Girl Scout Gold Award — twice the national Girl Scouts’ average.

To showcase Girl Scouts’ long-standing commitment to making the world a better place, River Valleys will also mobilize the Girl Scout community across the 49-county region for a Centennial Day of Service Oct. 13. The focus of the project, developed in connection with the Freshwater Society, will be improving water quality through community clean-ups, marking storm drains and education. The estimated value to the state of Minnesota of this one-day effort is approximately $6 million.

To learn more about all the centennial events, visit GSRV100.org.

In partnership with 18,000 adults volunteers, Girl Scouts of Minnesota and Wisconsin River Valleys helps nearly 45,000 girls each year — in all or portions of 49 counties in southern Minnesota and western Wisconsin — to discover new abilities, connect with new friends and take action to improve their communities.

Girl Scouts is the world’s pre-eminent leadership development organization for girls, building girls of courage, confidence and character, who make the world a better place. For more information, call 800-845-0787 or visit GirlScoutsRV.org.

Kelly Johnson is at kelly.johnson@ecm-inc.com

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