Derry teen’s project provided needed clothing and other items to those in need
DERRY, NH – Addressing the seemingly intractable problem of homelessness, Jaime Robinson of Derry took on the challenge to provide those in need with clothing, toiletries, school supplies, and more. Her project, called REACH (Respect, Encourage, Assist, Care, Hope) has earned her the Girl Scout Gold Award.
The Gold Award is earned by girls in grades 9-12 who demonstrate extraordinary leadership in developing sustainable solutions to local, national, and global challenges. The Girl Scout Gold Award is the highest possible honor for a Girl Scout Senior or Ambassador, and is the mark of the truly remarkable.
Robinson, 19, was inspired by the CityReach project in Boston, an annual effort that her church gets involved in to provide for those in need. Advisor Christine Lehoullier of the First Parish Congregational Church in East Derry said that when they went to Boston, Robinson wanted to do something similar in her hometown. “The passion in her eyes was amazing,” said Lehoullier. “I told my congregation that I saw the passion in her eyes and I jumped on board.”
Robinson said she took the CityReach tour in Boston on a cold night with mentors who were or are homeless so she could see the plight of the homeless first hand. “I have some friends who are homeless,” she said. “I have a friend who house hops. So I’ve experienced it in that way. It’s happened twice now with different people. It hits home when you see other people having this issue.”
“Jaime is a very caring person,” said Chris Cox, Jaime’s Girl Scout troop leader and aunt. “She really cares a lot about people and wants to help. She was excited when she thought about this Reach project in Boston.”
Once the decision was made to help and emulate the Boston drive, Robinson began to reach out to people for donations, had to secure a location for the donations to be made available for those in need, and to advertise the date items would be available for people to “shop” for what they need. On the Saturday of Labor Day, everything was arranged at the Marion Gerrish Community Center in Derry. They not only gave out clothing, school supplies, and other goods, they also provided bag lunches to those who came.
“It wasn’t as busy as expected but it was a good start-off day,” said Lehoullier. “These things start off slowly. CityReach said don’t expect a huge crowd. It takes time to build trust. But they said to keep doing it because people want to see that you do it regularly. The people that did come were so grateful. One woman was in tears – she had two grandsons that needed clothing. She called her daughter to come down with her little one. We helped some people that day!”
Robinson had to overcome many challenges and gained new skills by solving those problems. “I think time was my biggest obstacle,” she said, noting that she was already starting college as she finished her Gold Award project. “I did realize it would be a lot to take on, but didn’t know how much work it was going to be. I’d done some of the work there (in Boston). This is a lot for one little church to do.”
She also had to figure out what to do with the donations left over after the distribution event. “I had just spent months collecting all of this and people were so willing to just give it all away when I wanted it saved for next year. My team and I came up with a solution to give it to other local charities that have the same mission that we do. In the end, I am happy that people are still getting help by my items even if it’s not the way I saw it happening.”
The church plans to make this REACH collection and donation event an annual one, perhaps even semi-annual, extending Robinson’s project into the future for years to come.
Robinson herself has grown in her confidence and competence. “At first I didn't think I could do a project like this. Now that it's over I want to do more projects like this,” she said. “I also lacked confidence in talking to new people about my ideas. To do the project I had to talk to new people. Now I can go up to new people and share my ideas with them. With a project this big I took risks to get the project going. One big one was going to a new place at a late date and asking if we could use their building. The community was a big part of this project. I had to learn how to communicate with them and have a relationship with them so that people trust me.”
“She’s a very passionate young lady!” said Lehoullier. “If she sticks with this, she’s capable of great things!”
Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains will honor Robinson and 11 other Gold Award Girl Scouts at its Young Women of Distinction ceremonies in November.
Robinson is now a freshman at Rivier University in Nashua, where she is studying to be a middle school or high school math teacher. She is a true G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader)™ who is prepared for success through the Girl Scout Leadership experience.
Gold Award Girl Scouts don’t just change the world for the better, they change it for good. They earn college scholarships, demonstrate high educational and career outcomes, and are active in their communities. Jaime Robinson has answered the call to drive lasting, impactful change, and her Gold Award is a testament to her remarkable dedication to improving her community and the world.
About the Girl Scout Gold Award
- Gold Award Girl Scouts on average spend one to two years on their project.
- A Gold Award project must be sustainable after the girl’s involvement ends.
- The average age of Gold Award Girl Scouts is 17.
- Since 1916, more than 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.
- 12 young women have earned their Gold Award in the 2018-19 membership year in New Hampshire and Vermont as part of Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains.
- The Girl Scout Gold Award is the mark of the truly remarkable!
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 Girl Scout Leadership Experience is a one-of-a-kind leadership development program for girls, with proven results. It is based on time-tested methods and research-backed programming that helps girls take the lead—in their own lives and in the world. 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.