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Girl Scouts of Nassau County - News
Garden City, New York Residents Achieve Highest Honor in Girl Scouting



Garden City, NY July 12, 2012 – While some high schools now require a few hours of community service for graduation, none go as far as the Girl Scouts who earn the Gold Award. This year Victoria Aldrich, Bridget Beatty, Bethany DeStefano, Katie Forbes, Chiara Gerek, Jennifer Jaeger, Michelle Lithgow, Marguerite Palucci and Alexandra Ruhl of Garden City join the record number of 121 Girl Scouts in Nassau County that have woven a minimum of 80 hours of community service into their busy schedules. These young women developed Gold Award community action projects that address social issues in their community or promote acts of kindness and goodwill throughout Nassau County. Their efforts earned these girls the Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest honor that a young woman can achieve in Girl Scouting.

"We are so proud of all the young women who earned their Girl Scout Gold Award this year,” said Donna Ceravolo, Executive Director of the Girl Scouts of Nassau County. “Through their projects, these women have changed the lives of others and improved their communities in significant ways. We couldn’t be happier that 121 girls chose to take this rigorous path towards earning their Gold Award and succeeded in accomplishing their goals.”

Victoria Aldrich designed her Gold Award project to inform children and her community about the importance of the right balance of healthy eating and exercise. Through presentations to younger students, she provided them with information about a healthy lifestyle and its long-term benefits. To further promote her message, she created a website that addresses the importance of proper nutrition. Ms. Aldrich recently graduated from Garden City High School, where she was a member of the Italian club and played soccer on the school team as well as on a club team. She also volunteered at Winthrop University Hospital. She will attend the University of Delaware in the fall.

Bridget Beatty wanted families to have the opportunity to read together. For her Gold Award project, she connected with a preschool program in Brentwood and created a library of books written in English and Spanish. In this way, the students could bring home a storybook that their parents, many of whom spoke limited English, could read to them. Ms. Beatty graduated from Sacred Heart Academy in 2011, where she was a member of the track and dance teams and the yearbook staff. Her community activities included volunteering at Winthrop University Hospital, working with special needs children and volunteering with her church. Ms. Beatty recently completed her freshman year at Providence College.

Bethany DeStefano used her experience volunteering at Anna House, a local community service agency, to come up with the idea for her Gold Award project. She felt that Anna House could benefit by having increased community understanding of their work. Ms. DeStefano created a campaign to spread awareness of the organization. By speaking to local Girl Scouts and to school clubs, she educated them about the work of Anna House and about their needs. While some of those she spoke to collected art supplies, books and clothing, others donated their time. She has laid the groundwork for clubs at her school to “adopt” Anna House as their ongoing service commitment. Ms. DeStefano recently graduated from Garden City High School, where she was a member of the Key Club, and was co-president of the Spanish Club. She was also on varsity fencing and kick line teams and the yearbook staff. She will attend the University of Richmond in the fall.

Katie Forbes wanted to address the issue of poor nutrition among the elderly for her Gold Award project. She created a three-prong approach. To encourage seniors to eat a more balanced diet, she prepared a cookbook with healthy, easy-to-prepare meals. After further researching the topic, Ms. Forbes prepared and presented a PowerPoint presentation to a local senior center. Her final piece was a display that illustrated how to read nutritional content labels. Armed with all of this information, the senior citizens will be shopping, cooking, and eating healthier. Ms. Forbes recently graduated from Garden City High School, where she was a member of the fencing team and the orchestra. She was a member of the youth group at her church and volunteered at a local soup kitchen. She plans to attend Loyola University Maryland in the fall.

Chiara Gerek’s volunteer work at a local homeless shelter led her to design her Gold Award project to help the residents of their long-term housing. Since most of the residences had only basic household goods, she reached out to her community for donations of bedding, bathroom and kitchen items. Ms. Gerek also decided to use her artistic talents to provide some “food for the soul." She secured donations of picture frames and then framed her original photography and paintings to make the houses more decorative. Ms. Gerek graduated from Garden City High School in2011, where she was a member of the gymnastics team, Italian club and Voice for Africa club. She recently completed her freshman year at Bentley University.

Jennifer Jaeger’s Gold Award project sought to create a love of reading in children at a local residential facility. Since the families at this facility often have limited financial resources, the opportunity for the children to have access to a library of children’s literature is a great benefit. Through her efforts, the residence received books, bookshelves, and couches so that the new “reading corner” would become a gathering place for all. Ms. Jaeger recently graduated from Garden City High School, where she was a member of the Key Club, worked on the school newspaper and was in the Chamber Choir. She was also an active member of her parish youth group. She plans to attend the University of Notre Dame in the fall.

Michelle Lithgow used her Gold Award project to educate the community about the plight of the homeless. She spoke to different groups in her community and not only gave them information about this problem, but she also encouraged them to share their ideas for making things better. As part of her project, Ms. Lithgow requested that her audiences and her community donate items that could be distributed through a local homeless shelter. She recently graduated from St. Mary’s High School, where she was a member of the varsity swim and badminton teams. She was also an officer of the National Honor Society and participated in sports night, scholar service institute, yearbook staff, and campus ministry. She plans to major in secondary education at Molloy College.

Marguerite Palucci wanted to educate people about how HIV/AIDS is transmitted and how it can be prevented. For her Gold Award project, she focused specifically on teenagers. She created a brochure and videos that gave them information about the disease, emphasizing the risky behaviors that teens engage in and how they can lead to serious consequences. Ms. Palucci recently graduated from Garden City High School, where she played softball and was a member of the Voices for Africa club. She was an active member of St. Anne’s Service Club and plans to study architecture at New York Institute of Technology in the fall.

Alexandra Ruhl’s Gold Award project was designed to allow a group of special needs children to express themselves through art. The children, who attended the special needs mass at her church, were invited to create banners on canvas squares. Ms. Ruhl worked with the children as they created designs that related to their religion and that showed their individuality. The banners are now displayed at the church and add a sense of love and belonging. Ms. Ruhl graduated from Garden City High School in 2011, where she was a member of the Miracle Club, and the field hockey team. She currently volunteers at St. Anne’s respite program and teaches religion to special needs children. She also volunteers at the Anchor program and at Winthrop University Hospital. She recently completed her first year at Xavier University in Ohio.

On June 12th the Girl Scouts of Nassau County honored Girl Scouts Seniors and Ambassadors between the ages of 15 and 18 at a special ceremony held at Adelphi University in Garden City. In addition to the Girl Scout ceremony, on June 21st, Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano will present the girls, along with their Eagle Scout counterparts from Boy Scouts, with certificates for their achievements at the Theodore Roosevelt Legislative Chamber in Mineola. Town of Hempstead Supervisor also honored Girl Scout Gold Award recipients and Eagle Scouts on June 3rd in an event at Levy Preserve.

"Girl Scouts Gold Award recipients are ambitious and dedicated individuals with strong time management and organizational skills. They have joined an elite group of American women, who are part of the Girl Scouts of the USA's Gold Award Alliance," said Ms. Ceravolo.

The Gold Award project helps high school-aged Girl Scouts develop leadership skills and explore various career paths. Overall, the Gold Awards require up to a three-year commitment from each young woman. It affords the teen the opportunity to learn about arts and humanities, cultural and global relations, personal well-being, technology and science, environmental concerns and many of the innumerable issues facing young women and the world today.

Girl Scouts of Nassau County builds girls of courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place. Girl Scouting in Nassau County creates an accepting and nurturing environment, which gives girls a chance to build character and develops leadership skills for success in the real world. In partnership with committed adult volunteers, girls develop qualities that will serve them throughout their lives, like strong values, social conscience, and conviction about their own potential and self-worth. With almost 21,000 girl and 7,000 adult members, Girl Scouts of Nassau County has become the preeminent organization and leading authority for girls. The organization, now in its 100th year, continues to make the world a better place one girl at a time.

For more information on the Girl Scouts of Nassau County call Donna Rivera Downey 516 741-2550 at ext. 260, or visit


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