Nine Basking Ridge Girl Scouts recently earned their Gold Award, the highest award bestowed on a Girl Scout, and celebrated their achievements by participating during April in a Martha Stewart Show recognizing the Girl Scouts' 100th anniversary this year.
The nine Ambassador Scouts all earned their Gold Awards for projects completed within the past year, said Colleen Pine, who along with Huiling Kuo, leads Troop No. 60040.
The scouts, all juniors, were students at Ridge High School when they earned their awards although one, Kimberlee Lizakowski, has since moved out of state, Pine said. The others now are juniors at Ridge, she said.
Five of the nine were able to attend the television show, which was authorized as a school field trip, Pine said.
Pine said only about six percent of all Girl Scouts in the nation advance to earn their Gold Award, which parallels the Boy Scout Eagle Award.
To meet the standards for the award, the Girl Scouts had to design a program that was sustainable over time, although some have "passed the torch" to younger scouts to continue, Pine said.
Emily DaCosta started a program "Zen With Em," stress-reducing seminars and meditation sessions. The program has been offered in multiple settings, including church organizations, schools, Scouting troops and even a college, Pine said. DaCosta also started a blog, "The Balancing Act," in which students can meet online to discuss and defuse their stresses, she said.
Lauren Desatnick began a program at The Matheny School in Peapack-Gladstone, in which Matheny students have enjoyed baseball sessions with the Somerset Hills Little League. Desatnick facilitated the collaboration between the baseball players and students at the center serving children and adults with major developmental disorders.
Sherry Kuo came up with her idea following the Indonesian tsunami that devastated so many. After last year's Hurricane Irene, she visited flood-devastated areas in Somerville and Manville, Pine said. Working with SHIP, the Samaritan Homeless Interim Program, in Somerville, she came up with "Keeping Kids Afloat," kits containing necessary and comforting items such as bottled water, toothbrushes, teddy bears, coloring books and more, for children displaced by disaster, Pine said. SHIP now stocks hundreds of the kits, Pine said.
Kimberlee Lizakowski traveled to Basking Ridge's sister city of Houma, La. and worked on a project to help preserve the bayou areas, as well as the wildlife within, Pine said. She performed her project in cooperation with Al LiCata, executive director of the Bernards Township Regional Chamber of Commerce, Pine said.
Alexandra Mascali's project was "Developing Smiles," serving as a photographer to document the work and increase awareness of the sharingVillage Cancer Survivor program in Peapack-Gladstone, Pine said. Her efforts led to a book, Pine said.
Emily Pensak and Gina Tarabocchia created the Sharing Chef, which started at Fellowship Village, and has grown into a program in which they provide intergenerational cooking for families in need or who could use a pick-me-up during challenging situations, Pine said. The program has grown to attract cooperation from other church groups and organizations, she said.
Allison Pine devised a soccer program, GOal Setters, launched last spring, that brought together young players with autism to experience soccer in a safe and supervised environment. The children gained much from the program, and parents were able to relax while the children were enjoying the game, Pine said. The program is being carried on by other volunteers, she said.
Susan Weiner's project was "Been There, Done That," an online tutoring program connecting William Annin Middle School students with honors students at Ridge High School, Pine said. The high school students offered assistance with homework and studying skills — and the program was so successful that parents asked that it be expanded to include SAT preparation for older siblings at Ridge High School, she said.