Windham teen’s project focused on helping shelter animals find homes; project turned into a lesson in persistence
BEDFORD, NH – Ever since Alexia Gilardi was 7 years old, she dreamed of earning the Girl Scouts’ highest honor, the Gold Award. She did just that on Oct.10, but not without overcoming some obstacles along the way, including a complete restart late in the process. With her Gold Award project, “Animal Shelter Awareness,” Alexia wanted to increase awareness in her community about the needs of shelter animals. She developed a project to find homes for those animals, especially the older and disabled pets, as well as creating a sustainable method for providing kits for new pet owners, food, pet toys, cleaning supplies and more to a local shelter.
The Girl Scout Gold Award is the most challenging honor a Girl Scout can earn, and it shows she has taken on a project in her community that will stand the test of time, have a real and meaningful influence on people’s lives, and leave a legacy that will last forever.
Now 19, Alexia graduated from Windham High School this summer, and bridged from Ambassador Girl Scout to adult status in September. She was a Girl Scout from first grade through 12th, in troops 10118 and 12107. She is now a freshman at Southern New Hampshire University, majoring in electrical and computer engineering.
“I was heartbroken at bridging in May when I didn’t get it (the Gold Award). I had worked on the framework of a project for about nine months, but the entire thing fell through, so I gave up,” she wrote in her final project report. “In July of 2018, I decided to challenge myself. I came up with an entirely new project and took it to council with only a month left to work on it. It was an extremely unlikely project in terms of success, but I pushed myself to take it on because I believed in how much it meant to me. I reinstated my self-worth through this project, and I take great pride in the work I have done, even if it is not the project I originally dreamed of doing.”
Alexia worked with Junior Girl Scout Troop 22200 and the Salem Animal Rescue League gathering donations for the shelter and developing a way for the Girl Scouts to sustain that effort. She also wrote an article for the Penmen Press, the school newspaper for SNHU, on the need for pet adoption and an end to puppy and kitten mills. She said the most successful aspect of the project was creating cardboard scratching towers for cats, fleece blankets and pillows.
“They came out looking great, and got a positive response!” she said.
Troop 22200 will continue this effort to donate supplies, food, cleaning products and pet accessories. Working with the younger girls was a growth experience for Alexia.
“I learned how to be a proper role model to a younger troop,” she said, and how to run a meeting.”
Previously involved in her high school FIRST robotics team, she also put her STEM skills into practice.
“I learned how to utilize the skills I learned as a robotics and engineering student for non-engineering problems,” she said.
Kimberly Gaudet, Alexia’s advisor and an adoption counselor at the Salem Animal Rescue League, is thankful for the donations and all her hard work.
“Alexia’s work plays an important role in community outreach and helps bring awareness to the need for adoption,” she said. “Donations and projects, no matter the size help small non-profits like SARL in great ways! Alexia’s work also serves as a model for the younger generation Girl Scouts that she worked closely with for this project and we hope that Alexia’s work inspires others to follow in her footsteps.”
Brandi Rubin, Alexia’s mother, said Girl Scouts and this Gold Award project has given Alexia valuable skills.
“She is the most resilient, persevering person!” she said. “She would not quit. I can’t tell you how proud I am. It’s a huge achievement for any girl, but for her, that means everything to her.”
Alexia worked well with Rubin’s Junior Girl Scout troop to arrange for donations. “The girls love her. She ran the meetings so well I took her ideas! She has just, to me, exemplified everything in the Girl Scout Law. She cares about other girls, being a role model to other girls.”
While attempts at starting Gold Award projects involving robotics fell through for Alexia, she didn’t let that stop her. “It hurt that so many things had gotten in the way of it. I think on Aug. 14 I went to council to present my project. I was still working on it, up until the day I presented it. Given the time constraint, it worked out not too bad.”
Developing girls of courage, confidence and character is what Girl Scouts is all about.
“The most important thing that came out of this,” she said, “was confidence, and I will hold on tightly to that.
Alexia embodies the G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader)™ attitude Girl Scouts encourages. The Gold Award is one of the most challenging, exciting, and rewarding experiences a girl can have, and one of the most prestigious recognitions she’ll accomplish in life. Gold Award Girl Scouts earn college scholarships and enter the military at a higher rank. And it’s only available at Girl Scouts.
Since 1916, Girl Scouts have been making meaningful, sustainable change in their communities and around the world. The Girl Scout Gold Award acknowledges the power behind each recipient’s dedication to not only empowering and bettering herself, but also to making the world a better place for others.
About the Girl Scout Gold Award
- Gold Award Girl Scouts on average spend one to two years on their project.
- The average age of Gold Award Girl Scouts is 17.
- Since 1916, 1 million girls have earned the Gold Award or its equivalent.
- Gold Award Girl Scouts who join the armed forces enter one rank higher than other recruits.
- University research indicates that noting you are a Gold Award Girl Scout on a college application is influential in the admissions decision-making process.
- A Gold Award project must be sustainable after the girl’s involvement ends.
- 16 young women have earned their Gold Award in the past year in New Hampshire and Vermont as part of Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains.
About Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains: Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains is recognized throughout New Hampshire and Vermont as a leading expert on girls. Our innovative leadership programs help girls discover, connect, and take action as they develop strong values, a social conscience, and a deep sense of self and their potential. Through our exciting and challenging programs, Girl Scouts not only participate but also take the lead in a range of activities—from kayaking, archery, and camping, to coding, robotics, financial literacy training, and beyond! Serving more than 10,000 girls throughout New Hampshire and Vermont, girls discover the fun, friendship, and power of girls together. Visit www.girlscoutsgwm.org .