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Girl Scout Gold Award

The Gold Award is the highest award in Girl Scouting. An award with national standards, it acknowledges an individual's accomplishments, leadership, creativity, and personal effort in trying to make the world a better place. In 2008, 48 girls earned this prestigious award and were honored at a ceremony on June 2.

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Learn more about earning the Gold Award.

The 2008 Gold Award Recipients:

Amy Baldauf Brittany Dunderdale Jessica Ireland Olivia Puckett
Maija Baldauf Lauren Evans Nicole Marien Katherine Raunig
Stefanie Baril Jessica Gallo Nooreen Amina Meghani Kara Rauscher
Megan Barros Sandra Garrett Marguerite Miceli Sarah Sieminski
Shannon Belfanti Laurelle Giovannoli Amanda Mitchell Alyssa Smith
Sara Brunsden Anne Grossfeld Samantha Morrill Joan Stupik
Kathleen Campbell Romana Haider Laura Mulligan Margaret Sullivan
Lauren Charamut Elizabeth Harding Brittany O'Brien Rachel Tarini
Christina Cormier Kathleen Henley Shana O'Rourke Patricia Turmenne
Brittany Deane Erica Heron Rochelle Picard Sarah Wilbanks
Melanie Dexter Samantha Higley Kristen Piel Lacey Wildman
Amanda DiMarzio Jessica Hoover Emily Proctor Jennifer Williams



Amy Baldauf, Greenwich - For nearly two months preschool children at the First Congregational Church in Greenwich had the opportunity to learn new songs and crafts throughout the summer, thanks to Amy's Gold Award project.  In addition to helping children learn new skills, Amy donated all the leftover materials to the church so that the projects can be enjoyed over and over again in the future.  Amy is currently a Senior at Greenwich High School.

Maija Baldauf, Greenwich — Maija’s love for reading resulted in a collection of over 130 books and donations of a new carpet, bookcase, materials for pillows, and a rocking chair to create a welcoming and comfortable atmosphere for students, teachers, and volunteers at the Family Centers of Greenwich.  After Maija’s transformation, the facility has a quiet place where people, and especially children, can sit and enjoy a book.  Maija is currently a Senior at Greenwich High School.


Stefanie Baril, Woodbridge — Children in the New Haven area had the opportunity to experience a dance class like no other.  Stefanie designed a dance class that gave children in the area the opportunity to take all types of dance lessons, from jazz, hip-hop, and pilates to ballet.  Most of these children would not have been able to afford to take these classes had it not been for Stefanie’s program.  Stefanie is currently attending Suffolk University and would like to work for the state crime lab or the FBI as a forensic investigator or coroner.


Megan Barros, Ridgefield The children of Belize are benefiting from the knowledge brought to them by a teenager from the U.S.   Megan traveled to Belize with her church and created Team Belize: Operation English at the Anglican Cathedral College and the Holy Cross Anglican School.  There she tutored students in English and assisted with lessons.  Observing that the students needed much more than she could provide in the short time she was in Belize, she developed three binders of lesson plans which were sent back for volunteers to use to tutor the students – thus furthering the education of those teens.

 Shannon Belfanti, Ridgefield — Putting her talents as an artist to use, Shannon created an inviting space where families could relax and learn about sea life at Family and Children’s Aid, a community program for underserved children.  She painted an aquarium mural and transformed a drab basement into a vibrant place for learning.  The improved physical environment attracted not only children in the program but also visitors who attend church services there.  Shannon created a sense of community and pride in a space that otherwise would have been left unused.  Shannon currently attends Ridgefield High School.

Sara Brunsden, Ridgefield — Foster children can now enjoy a redesigned playroom at the Department of Children and Families thanks to Sara’s Gold Award project which combined her love for children with her creative talents.  Colorful stencil and wallpaper borders now line the walls, and  toys and  solicited  donations  are now neatly organized for the children to access while they meet their new families for the first time.  Sara’s hard work will provide a more comfortable and relaxing setting which will help ease the encounter and transition for children and their foster parents.  Sara currently attends Ridgefield High School.


Kathleen Campbell, Glastonbury Kathleen was thinking globally while acting locally when she chose to team up with the Jubilee House in Hartford and create Welcome Boxes for refugees in the Hartford area.  With the cooperation of area troops and the Jubilee House, Kathleen collected donations ranging from clothing to food items for the boxes.  Due to the success of her project, Kathleen was able to touch the lives of several different families throughout the Somalian community in Hartford and plans on continuing her work with the refugees.  She currently attends Glastonbury High School.


Lauren Charamut, Rocky Hill Putting her knitting to the test, Lauren co-chaired a weekend event which teamed up seniors from the local senior center, parishioners from Saint James Church in Rocky Hill, and local Girl Scouts to gather yarn and knitting supplies to knit scarves, mittens, hats, and blankets for those in need.  Once completed, the items were donated to the Rocky Hill Department of Human Services for distribution to lower income families in the community.  Lauren currently attends Rocky Hill High School.

Christina Cormier, Danbury Children with disabilities now have a place to go and experience nature as they never have been able to before, thanks to Christina’s sensory garden at an elementary school.  Seasons of Serenity, as the garden is called, provides children with different textures, colors, and plants that represent each season.  Equipped with swings, benches, and stepping stones, the garden has brought the classroom outside and encouraged a new kind of learning which brings students of all abilities together. Christina is attending Springfield College and plans on becoming an occupational therapist.

Brittany E. Deane, Rocky Hill Brittany’s Gold Award project teamed up members of local Girl Scout Troops, Senior Centers, and Saint James Parish to keep the community warm during the cold winter months.  Brittany co-chaired a town-wide winter camping weekend in which she taught other Girl Scouts how to knit scarves, mittens, hats, and quilts.  Once completed, the items were donated to the Rocky Hill Department of Human Services to be distributed to lower income families in the community.  Brittany currently attends Rocky Hill High School and continues to volunteer her time at the Cold Springs Assisted Living Facility.

Melanie Dexter, Bolton - Melanie organized a project to educate youth and the general public about the risks of Human Papilliomvirus (H.P.V.), including Cervical Cancer.  She created a video and posters, aimed at teens and parents, that were displayed in and donated to area high schools and libraries.  Melanie presented the video to students at The Loomis Chaffee School and created a student survey to assess the impact the video had on them.  Melanie currently attends Loomis Chaffee School and plans to attend Worcester Polytechnic Institute, where she was accepted into the Fire Protection Engineering Masters Degree Program.


Amanda DiMarzio, Bethel - Observing wild cats in the neighborhood led Amanda to the Danbury Animal Welfare Society (DAWS), a volunteer-run animal shelter in her town.  To address animal abandonment, Amanda set forth a campaign to promote pet-owner responsibility, pet safety, adoption appeal, a shelter clean-up, and a collection drive to benefit the shelter.  She created a Pet ID booklet - complete with ID tags - to keep track of a pet's health history.  Pet ID booklets were distributed at a DAWS event and also donated to local veterinarians to be handed out for free.  Amanda graduated from Immaculate High School in 2007.

Brittany Dunderdale, Ridgefield - The children of Belize City, Belize, are benefiting from the 1-2-3 of mathematics brought to them from a world away by a teenager from the U.S.  Brittany created lesson plans and tutored students while she was in Belize City for two weeks.  She left behind lesson plans, workbooks, and worksheets for the students to use after she left.  These lesson plans could be used by any volunteer who came over to tutor the students, thus furthering the education of these teens.  Brittany attends Immaculate High School and plans to attend college to study psychology.

Lauren Evans, Monroe  - The Monroe Food Pantry and residents of Monroe have a new 20' x 25' vegetable garden, which produces a hearty amount of vegetables for the pantry as a result of Lauren's project.  With the help of local businesses, nurseries, and flea markets, Lauren gathered the necessary gardening tools and planting supplies and enlisted the help of local Girl Scout troops and seniors to plant and maintain the garden while bridging the intergenerational gap with the shared activity and providing a place for seniors living in senior housing to garden.  Lauren is currently a senior at Masuk High School

Jessica Gallo, Monroe - Thanks to the efforts of Jessica in going for the gold, those in need who receive food from the Monroe Food Pantry can now receive fresh vegetables from the fenced-in vegetable garden that she worked on planting.  The garden will be maintained by local seniors without gardens of their own - thereby providing them with an activity that many of them enjoy.  Jessica currently attends Masuk High School.

Sandra Garrett, Ridgefield Sandra Garrett turned a tragedy into triumph when she created Lean On Me, a bereavement group for teens ages 13-18 years old.  Sandra recruited therapist Adrienne Slater to help lead the group, researched the stages of grief, created a brochure, and then implemented the group at a local church.  Unique in the fact that it was created by a teen, the program offered eight weeks of meeting sessions.  Sandra currently attends Ridgefield High School and would like to pursue a career in the medical field.

Laurelle Giovannoli, Ridgefield Laurelle’s project combined two of her favorite activities: cheerleading and mentoring younger girls. She developed and implemented a three-day cheerleading camp for beginners.  She also developed a written collection of cheers and spent many hours creating a DVD detailing basic cheers, warm-up activities, stunts, jumps, and tumbling skills.  The DVD was then donated to youth cheerleading in her town.  Laurelle currently attends Ridgefield High School.

Anne Grossfeld, Ridgefield - Children in Ridgefield will enjoy the newly updated interactive activities and DVD created by Anne as they step back in time at the Keeler Tavern Museum.  Anne combined facts from Ridgefield's 300th Anniversary celebration with information for the yearly school trips to the museum to reinforce the intertwined history of Ridgefield and Keeler Tavern.  To make the tours more intriguing, Anne also developed follow-up activities for children to do.  She donated both the DVD and the interactive activities to the museum for future use.  Anne plans to attend Syracuse University.


Romana Haider, South Windsor - Youth in South Windsor took a trip around the world through a Cultural Awareness Day organized by Romana.  The day taught students about cultural appreciation and diversity throughout the world through storytelling, dances, food, games, and an interactive activity.  As part of her project, Romana wrote and illustrated a book entitled Sara and Michael's World Travels, which was donated to the South Windsor Public Library.  Romana plans to attend the University of Connecticut to study medical anthropology, women's studies, and international relations


Elizabeth Harding, Ellington - The community of Ellington got a rare glimpse into the atrocities of genocide through the eyes of a young filmmaker.  For her project, Elizabeth sought to bring to light global injustices occurring in distant Darfur through a documentary of rallies she attended, a pamphlet she created, and a petition she sent to government leaders.  Elizabeth donated her documentary to her high school in hopes that it will spread to younger students the awful facts of the atrocities of genocide.

Kathleen Henley, Cromwell - For Kathleen's Gold Award project, she conducted two workshops for girls 8-12 years old that were focused on self-esteem, health, nutrition, study skills, and bullying.  She created educational crafts and activities on these topics for girls to take home.  Kathleen currently attends Muhlenberg College.  She would like to go to medical school and become a gastroenterologist. 

Erica Heron, New Canaan - Erica teamed up with the New Canaan Health and Human Services Department to create and distribute more than 100 Holiday Baking Baskets to those in need.  With the cooperation of various community organizations, Erica accepted donations of baking materials for her baskets.  The baskets were a way to help the local food pantry during the holidays when need and supplies are critical.  Due to the success of her project, the New Canaan Health and Human Services Department has decided to continue the Holiday Baking Baskets next year.  Erica currently attends New Canaan High School.

Samantha Higley, Burlington - For her project, Samantha created a website and pamphlet on spinal cord injuries.  The purpose of her project was not only to educate the public about SCIs but also to provide information on how to transform a home or a barn to be accessible to people of any ability.  For that reason she interviewed building professionals in the course of designing her website and pamphlet. Samantha attends Wamogo High School.  Her plans are to go to college and major in biology.  She would like to become a teacher.

Jessica Hoover, Darien - For her Gold Award project, Jessica developed a spiritual gifts class for youth in her church in which they could share both their spiritual gifts and practical talents.  She designed lesson materials and worked with a community counselor at her church in the development and design of the course.  Then she donated all supplies and materials to the church for future use.  Jessica currently attends Eastern University.


Jessica Ireland, Danbury - Needy families who will benefit from Jessica's recipe guide for the Scotty Fund of Bethel, a non-profit organization which assists families with sick children delivery of nightly meals and other services.  Zack's Meal Book that wrote, bound, and donated, contains more than 20 easy and fast meals that volunteers of the Scotty Fund can prepare more efficiently.  Jessica hoped to attract more volunteers to the fund by making the process easier.  Jessica currently attends Danbury High School and plans to major in hospitality at college

Nicole Marien, Preston - Elementary school students are benefiting from Nicole's project to spruce up their playground.  The newly outfitted playground features a yellow brick road, new blacktop games, and an informational games booklet which she developed and donated to the school.  She received donations of paint, recruited volunteers to paint, and spent hours working on her project.  As a result, the revamped playground should provide hours upon hours of fun.  Nicole is attending Hofstra University and hopes to pursue a career in the film industry.

Nooreen Amina Meghani, Bethlehem - When Nooreen saw that her fellow high school students were disinterested in science, she decided to create a science curriculum to reignite the minds of her peers.  With cooperation from her teachers and fellow students, Nooreen developed a bound book of science labs focused on questions that the students could grasp and find interesting.  She tested the labs on volunteers, perfected them, and donated her lab book to her high school science department.  Nooreen is currently a student at Wellesley College with goals of becoming an author and working for NASA as an astrophysicist.

Marguerite Miceli, Cromwell - Learning from the past and giving to the future was the goal of Marguerite's Gold Award project when she developed the Adopt a Grandparent project.  By uniting generations, through a weekly program, she teamed up a small group of children with a group of seniors for one-hour weekly sessions of activities on topics that ranged from music to nutrition.  The program took place at the senior center in Cromwell.  Marguerite's hope was to help people realize that you cannot have a future without first learning from the past.  Marguerite aspires to be a pharmacist.

Amanda Mitchell, Woodbury - In Amanda's Gold Award project, she developed a basic life skills video and pamphlet about independent living for young men and women who at the age of 18 would be leaving the foster care system through the State Department of Children and Families.  Amanda created the video and brochure to help young teens struggling with independent living to develop a better understanding of basic life skills.  Amanda attends Springfield College and aspires to become a speech pathologist.

Samantha Morrill, Danbury - As a life-long member of  St. Edwards Church, Samantha decided to give back to the church by renovating the statues that welcome guests on a daily basis and expanding the surrounding garden.  She solicited donations from local nurseries and hardware stores to complete her project.  Samantha's hard work resulted in a beautiful area for church members, wedding guests, and others to enjoy for years to come.  Samantha plans to attend Hofstra University.


Laura Mulligan, Ridgefield - Knowledge of reality led Laura to educate her peers and others on drug awareness.  After interviewing at Bridgeport Detention Center and ALPHA House and doing research on the Internet, Laura developed a moving collage with pictures, stories, and information on resources people could turn to for help.  The collage was displayed at the local middle and high schools and Town Hall.  Laura's goal was to start conversations between students, teachers, and parents by bringing the reality of drug awareness to the forefront of their lives.  Laura graduated from Ridgefield High School in 2007.


Brittany O'Brien, Ridgefield - Using her love of history, Brittany created an audio walking tour of the historical sites on Main Street in Ridgefield and of the reconstructed Scott House to correspond with the town's 300th Anniversary.  Brittany chose 11 historical sites throughout the center of Ridgefield to include in her audio tour and accompanying pamphlet. Brittany donated copies of the pamphlet and the copyrighted audio walking tour to the historical society so both visitors and residents can learn about the history of Ridgefield.  Brittany is currently attending Skidmore College.

Shana O'Rourke, Monroe - Taking her artistic abilities and love of children to the next level, Shana wrote and illustrated a book about the rainforest for the children of the YMCA Kindertime Class at Stepney Elementary School.  She created a colorful 36' x 40' mural featuring the animals of the rainforest to hang at the Kindertime class.  Shana presented the book and the mural to the class in the form of a lesson.  The mural will hang each April, and the children will read the book each spring when they study the rainforest.  Shana plans to attend SUNY Morrisville to study nursing.

Rochelle Picard, Oakdale - Families of the First Congregational Church in New London have a new safe play area, thanks to Rochelle's project.  She created the area as a haven where parents and children could interact and have fun.  Many members of her church come back week after week because they now have a place for their children to play.  Rochelle is attending Husson College in Bangor, Maine, and aspires to become a Maine State Trooper.


Kristen Piel, Woodbury - For her Gold Award project, Kristen organized a Music Appreciation Day to showcase the multi-generational musical talents of her community.  This event featured a four-hour summer concert highlighting student and adult musicians from Woodbury and surrounding towns performing different musical genres.  Music is Kristen's passion, and she wanted to encourage local talent within her community.  Kristen currently attends Susquehanna University and plans on teaching elementary school education.


Emily Day Proctor, Coventry - Emily researched Colonial era herbs and plants for a new garden at the Strong Porter House in Coventry. She rototilled and landscaped the area, carefully planted 17 different herbs that were heavily relied upon during Colonial times, and built benches for people to sit on in the garden.  Emily spent hours researching and installing the garden, as well as creating a pamphlet that detailed plantings in the garden so visitors to the Strong-Porter House can take with them and have a souvenir. Emily currently attends the University of Connecticut at Avery Point.

Olivia Puckett, Columbia - Residents of Columbia now have a revitalized public park to visit as a result of  Olivia's gold award efforts. Olivia created an inspirational garden at Columbia Recreational Park to enhance the beauty of the community. Olivia planted flowerbeds, shrubs, and new grass to provide a more inviting area for the residents of the town to enjoy. Olivia attends Eastern Connecticut State University and would like to pursue a career in law or become a legislator.

Katherine Raunig, New London - Girls at St. Bernard's High School have Katherine to thank for their refurbished locker room. Katherine enlisted the help of volunteers in the priming and painting of the entire shower area and approximately 800 lockers. She let her Saints pride shine through as she worked through three hot summer weeks. Now future "Saints" have a safe and healthy place to prep for sports. Katherine attends Stonehill College and plans to attend medical school to become a pediatrician.

Kara Rauscher, Ridgefield — Kara’s love for cooking and kids led her to Stamford to work with students first, second and third graders in the DOMUS program at Chester Addison Community Center.  Kara created a 12-week hands-on cooking program where students learned kitchen basics and healthy eating, and had the opportunity to make various recipes.  An overwhelming positive response by students, parents, and DOMUS staff encouraged  her to continue the program to beyond Kara’s 12-week commitment.  At the final session, Kara presented the girls with a book of recipes, worksheets, and games to encourage and challenge their learning at home.  Kara attends Ridgefield High School. 

Sarah Sieminski, South Windsor - Sarah organized a collaboration between her high school chamber orchestra and a local elementary school to encourage younger students to continue playing music.  She also developed a brochure of practice tips for fourth and fifth graders and created a slide show featuring music from her high school.  First grade students were also included in the project as they were introduced to string instruments and received a coloring book. Sarah later revisited the students as second graders to review what they had learned.  Sarah will be attending Oneonta State College and majoring in music industry.

Alyssa Smith, Waterford - For Alyssa's Gold Award project, she focused on dune preservation at Pleasure Beach in Waterford and Pleasure Beach. She led the charge on environmental preservation and protection by picking up and categorizing trash and leading others to do so on three separate days. Alyssa promoted dune preservation and the impact of erosion on beaches through posters, brochures, and a PowerPoint presentation which ran on local television. Alyssa also went to local elementary schools and presented them with worksheets on the issue of dune preservation and the effects of erosion. Alyssa currently attends Babson College and would like ultimately to run her own company.

Joan Stupik, Higganum - As one teen ‘REACH'ing out to others, Joan's project took the scare out of cancer for children whose parents are undergoing cancer treatment by setting up an informational program for teens at the Middlesex Cancer Center. Joan worked with the staff to take teens on a tour of the facility, where they learned about cancer and actual treatment options, which included a live demonstration of real radiation treatment and chemotherapy.  Thanks to Joan's undertaking, The Middlesex Cancer Center hopes to continue the REACH program for teens dealing with the struggle of their parents' diagnosis.

Margaret Sullivan, Bethany - For Margaret's Gold Award project, she created and maintained a small medicinal herb garden on the Russell Homestead farmhouse  property recently donated to the town of Bethany. She researched  and planted each herb found during the time that the original farm was generating. She also created a pamphlet detailing what is planted in the garden so visitors to the homestead can learn more about the plants and take the pamphlet home as a souvenir. Margaret attends Rowan University and aspires to become an artist, as well as a high school art teacher.

Rachel Tarini, Derby - The historical sites in Derby will entice many more visitors because of a walking tour and a historical CD created by Rachel. The walking tour highlights the city's greenway, and residents can listen to the historical CD while taking the walking tour. Rachel donated the CDs to the library, along with easy-to-follow historical worksheets that can be used by schoolchildren. Rachel is currently attending Loyola College and would like to work in the biological sciences.

Patricia Turmenne, East Windsor - Using her love of sports to promote self-esteem and healthy living, Patricia organized a Try-A-Sport Day for children, grades 2-7 of East Windsor. This was an opportunity for children to get outside and either try a new sport or be active in a sport that they already enjoyed.  The day gave children an opportunity to sign up for sports in town through Parks and Recreation. This increased the number of participants and promoted healthy lifestyle activities.

 Sarah Wilbanks, Old Greenwich - Taking her love of reading and coupling it with her love of children, Sarah developed a reading enrichment program for preschoolers. This two-week-long program was designed to bring the importance of reading into the lives of small children, along with a fun craft and story reflection. As the program continued, Sarah found that children who originally were uninterested in reading began looking forward to the program each day and readily took part in reading books. At the conclusion of the program, Sarah left behind a binder of lesson plans, along with a box of sample crafts and materials needed to replicate the project. While Sarah is deciding what to do after graduation, she is sure she would like to work with children abroad.

Lacey Wildman, Danbury - Lacey's determination set the stage for a Gold Award project that will be enjoyed by countless children at the Danbury Moose Lodge.  She designed and solicited donations and the physical labor to bring the existing playground up to proper safety codes while expanding it to more than double its original size.  Over 70 hours went into this labor of love which offers children from the Lodge, the Special Olympics, Boy Scouts, and others a safe and fun playground to enjoy.  Parents can now rest assured their children can play safely for years to come.  Lacey graduated from Danbury High School in 2007 and is attending Western Connecticut State University in Danbury.

Jennifer Williams, Windsor Locks — Jennifer brought out the beauty of the past, present, and the future working with the youth of Windsor Locks through an after-school art program. Combining her love of art and working with children, Jennifer assisted in the creation of colorful murals portraying Windsor Locks through the murals that were then donated to the Windsor Locks Public Library. After graduating from college, Jennifer plans to be an aerospace engineer working with satellites and composite materials.

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