Archive for Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Girl Scouts honored for helping shelter

March 26, 2008

Two local high school girls spent their winter break painting, organizing and cleaning.

But, they said it was the least they could do to help abused women and children lead happier lives.

Hannah Rollwagen, junior at Basehor-Linwood High School, and Ashley Roberts, Basehor resident and junior at Immaculata High School, recently earned their Girl Scouts Gold Award through work at the Alliance Against Family Violence Center in Leavenworth.

"It's the highest award a Girl Scout can earn," Gina Garvin, Public Relations and Marketing Director for Girl Scouts of northeast Kansas and northwest Missouri said about the Gold Award.

The girls' mothers, who are also the leaders of Troop 1734, pointed them in the direction of the center, which provides shelter, classes and a crisis hotline for victims of abuse.

"We wanted to help women that had been in abusive situations and that was pretty much how we chose it," Roberts said.

"It is a problem today and that's an area we thought we could help most in because we're women and have a better understanding of their needs," Rollwagen said.

Outreach coordinator for AAFV, Sister Jane Albert Mehrens, said the girls helped out in various ways, from running errands and sending Federal Express packages to organizing donated clothing and cementing a swing set into the ground for the children.

However, their biggest project was painting the center's daycare, which is utilized by children from the entire community. The girls recruited their parents to help them select colors and move items around.

"They were wonderful," Mehrens said. "Not only did they come on Saturday and bring helpers with them to paint our daycare, they came when they were out of school at Christmas time and helped us do a myriad of things around the office. They ran all kinds of errands we just don't have time to do and kind of go by the wayside. Whatever was needed, they were willing to do."

Roberts and Rollwagen also formed a small scale donation drive through each of their schools and other organizations by passing out fliers and sending out e-mails that contained a list of items the center needed such as cleaning supplies and clothing.

"We didn't get a ton of donations, but enough to help them out for a while," Rollwagen said.

After their 60 hours of service were complete, the ladies answered essay questions to explain the different skills they used as well as what could have been done differently. Both girls said leadership and time management were two huge lessons learned during their time at the center. And, while they didn't work with the women and children directly, the girls said they still felt they made an impact on their lives.

"We didn't get to meet them," Roberts said. "We saw some of them and heard some of the problems they were going through. We go to see what kind of trouble they had to go through to get their lives back together."

"Those women didn't know that we did it, but that just makes it better because you're not doing it for the recognition," Rollwagen said. "You're doing it because you know there's someone in your community that needs help."

While fun and rewarding, Roberts and Rollwagen said the 60-hour project was more difficult than they had expected.

"I'm not going to lie, it was really difficult," Rollwagen said. "You just have to think about those women that need you and the kids. That's a big impact for me because I love kids. It improved my character because I had to think of others before myself. That's a big thing."

Mehrens said she and the rest of the AAFV staff were incredibly pleased with time the girls put in at the center and were especially impressed with their work ethic.

"It was a win-win situation for us and I hope they gained some good experiences with us," she said. "I think so often we don't hear the good side of young people and they were certainly good young women. We hated to see their time with us come to an end. They were wonderful."

The pair will officially earn their Gold Award in an awards ceremony next Saturday.

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