Hi Splotters! We know volunteerism and being an active member of your community is important to you, so today we want to introduce you to three girl scouts who are doing BIG things in their community! Jennifer, Sharon and Lauren's BIG Idea won the grand prize in the 2010 BE BIG in Your Community Contest. Their BIG Idea, "Hearts for Diamond Hospital Classroom" is to help their community (and a lot of other kids and teens too!) by building a classroom for youth cancer patients at their local hospital. We got to talk with Jennifer about it!
Q: What was your reaction when you won the contest?
Jennifer: When I opened the letter announcing our win, I had to sit down! I rushed over to my teammate's house, and everyone was screaming and hugging one another. We even shed a few tears of joy. After celebrating over a bowl of ice cream, the realization set in that we, three teenaged Girl Scouts, could make a difference in the world. It was so empowering. The next night, we got together with all of our families and celebrated some more with a special dinner.
Q: Your sister was hospitalized with cancer and that is how you saw children struggling to keep up with their school work during their stays. What inspired you to do something about it?
Jennifer: My sister was very sick, so as you can imagine, her hospital stay was very stressful. The last thing my sister (and my family) needed was to worry about all of the school work she was missing. Sometimes, I would do homework with her in the hospital's "study area," which also doubled as the playroom. It was extremely hard to focus on reading, writing, and arithmetic while the nearby children played video games! My Girl Scout Sisters also knew about the patients' difficult situation, and that's when we came up with our solution. We would show our "Hearts for Diamonds" by creating a designated classroom in Diamond Children's Medical Center filled with the most modern and effective technology for students of any age.
Q: How and when did you start this initiative together?
Jennifer: Lauren Evans, Sharon Fass and I all teamed up together to form this project about a year ago. It was around this time that our Girl Scout Troop was brainstorming ways to help the community in a BIG way. At the same time, our sister scout (and my sister) was hospitalized for three weeks. I guess you could say that all of our stars were in alignment. Just when we were looking for a community service project, we became aware of the hospital's lack of educational equipment.
Q: Do you hope that your BIG Idea will inspire other people to BE BIG?
Jennifer: Absolutely! That is one of our biggest goals for this project! The truth is, each and every one of us has the power to make a difference. Take it from the Girl Scouts of Troop 484: when it comes to helping other people, there is no small or big change. Everything matters. You can never fail when you help some else. We hope people see us three ordinary teenaged girls and say, "If they can do it, so can I!"
Jennifer and her team connected with the Volunteer Center of Southern Arizona, an affiliate of HandsOn Network, the nonprofit partner of BE BIG to help bring their BIG Idea to life. Did they inspire you? Or maybe you have a BIG Idea of your own? Like Jennifer and her team, you can see your BIG idea become a reality. Enter the BE BIG in Your Community Contest today for a chance to win a $25,000 grant!
— Melissa, Scholastic Media