Josie West Geary earns Girl Scout Gold Award with emergency preparedness project
SANDOWN, NH – A power outage when she was young left a major impression on Girl Scout Josie West Geary. The entire town was without power in 2012, and her family was not prepared for the long test of their ability to endure a cold home with no power. West Geary decided to help people be ready for an emergency with “Be Prepared, Not Scared,” a program to educate people on emergency readiness which included providing emergency kits.
West Geary, 18, of Sandown, earned the highest honor possible for a Girl Scout in high school, the Gold Award, for her program. She wants everyone to think ahead and have a plan for any natural disaster and offers a series of short videos on how to prepare an emergency kit, including what important documents and medicines to have ready.
“When I was younger, my house was without power for a very long time,” she said. “And we were not prepared at all! So, I don’t want families to go through what we went through. I’m one of five, so there’s seven people in the house, and not being prepared did not work well for us. So, I wanted to have this kit that people could have or create by themselves to just keep in their basement so they could be prepared for something that happens during the winter, if you have to evacuate your home, because you never know what’s going to happen these days.”
West Geary noted that most people are unprepared for disasters for many reasons:
- The inability to organize the procedures to prepare.
- The lack of knowledge as to what may be needed.
- The awareness that bad things sometimes happen.
- Procrastination because they do not want to acknowledge that disaster may strike.
- The mindset that because of financial constraints, they can't prepare.
- The thought that someone will come help if there is a disaster.
Deciding to focus on the elderly households and those who regularly access the services of the town food pantry, West Geary created 48-hour emergency kits using reusable shopping bags containing an emergency lantern, hand warmers, water, shelf-stable protein, cereal bars, snacks, a can opener, hand sanitizer, and crackers. Each bag also contains a guide and information on how to take care of pets, what to add to your bag in the event evacuation was necessary and a fillable communication sheet where families can work together to put in contact information and develop a plan for their safety. Inside the bag is a mini kit in the form of a resealable plastic envelope for securing and storing copies of important documents and financial and medical information.
To expand her effort to the world at large, West Geary has made videos to explain how to prepare for disaster that anyone can access on YouTube at https://bit.ly/preparednotscared.
This capstone project to her Girl Scout years taught West Geary many new useful life skills.
“I know that I gained patience, but also my organization skills have not been better!” she said. “After this project, I know how to organize it into different categories, and break those categories into categories, so that I could tackle each task.”
West Geary was eager to join Girl Scouts as a young girl, which she did in second grade as a Brownie.
“I would not trade it for anything else! I made so many friends, especially I learned so many skills through Girl Scouts, too!” she said. Our troop participated with the Coastal Rompers every year in the NH Coastal clean-up with Girl Scouts from all over the State of NH.
Her troop was active in camping and provided a way for good friends to stay connected as they went to different schools in their later years.
“I have a vivid memory of when we learned how to carve into wood with knives, do fire starters, key components,” she said. “And then, when we were the oldest Girl Scout troop in my town, we always had the younger Girl Scout troops, so I have vivid memories of going to the younger Girl Scouts, telling them, preparing them. Or we would put the ask to help out for Veterans Day or holiday parties (for the Sandown Lions Club). We would do an Easter breakfast (for the Sandown PTA), cookie walk, Christmas stuff, and just having the honor of having them ask our Girl Scout troop to help out. It was a happy experience. They know us. It was nice to be known in the community; that we are there to help them.”
While at Timberlane Regional High School, West Geary was a a member of the Student Council and a competitive swimmer, who also played lacrosse and tennis. She is now a freshman at the New Hampshire Technical Institute and plans to earn her radiological technician degree with an eye toward becoming an ultrasound technician.
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Gold Award Girl Scouts don’t just change the world for the better, they change it for good. 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. Since 1912, Girl Scouts have answered the call to drive lasting, impactful change. They earn college scholarships, demonstrate high educational and career outcomes, and are active in their communities.
Josie West Geary 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.
- 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.1hen they join the military.University research indicates that noting you are a Gold Award Girl Scout on a college application is influential in the admissions decision-making process.
- Thirty young women from New Hampshire and Vermont earned their Gold Award in the 2021-2022 membership year as part of Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains.
- The Girl Scout Gold Award is the mark of the truly remarkable.
We Are Girl Scouts
Girl Scouts bring their dreams to life and work together to build a better world. Through programs from coast to coast, Girl Scouts of all backgrounds and abilities can be unapologetically themselves as they discover their strengths and rise to meet new challenges—whether they want to climb to the top of a tree or the top of their class, lace up their boots for a hike or advocate for climate justice, or make their first best friends. Backed by trusted adult volunteers, mentors, and millions of alums, Girl Scouts lead the way as they find their voices and make changes that affect the issues most important to them. To join us, volunteer, reconnect, or donate, visit girlscouts.org.
Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains serves girls throughout New Hampshire and Vermont through volunteer-run troops, events, and virtual programs. Visit www.girlscoutsgwm.org to learn more.