Our Youth

The Power of Determined Silver Scouts

When their community was in need, seven eighth-grade girls from Sacred Heart, Bayside, exemplified the true character of the Girl Scouts, said Roberta Bilello co-leader of the parish Troop 4443.

After completing their Silver Project and graduating from eighth grade, these scouts all went on to Catholic high schools. Sitting, left to right, are Taylor Bayer, Sacred Heart Academy, Hempstead, L.I.­­; Emily Keil, The Mary Louis Academy, Jamaica Estates; Donna Episcopio, St. Francis Prep, Fresh Meadows; Renata Bilello, The Mary Louis Academy; Alexandra Fitzpatrick, Archbishop Molloy H.S., Briarwood; Julia McNeill, Marymount School, Manhattan; and Annisa Santiago, St. Mary’s H.S., Manhasset, L.I.

The room their parish and school used for toddler programs was in need of a makeover, said Georgette Lyons, Girl Scout moderator. So, the girls spent all of last academic year transforming it into a space where their younger peers could learn and play more comfortably. The project earned the young leaders the Silver Award, the highest possible award for Girl Scouts in their age group.

In order to tackle such a large project, the girls asked the administrators at the school and parish what can and should be done. Once they had established their goals, they were ready to do what it takes to get the job done.

Bilello said the girls, Taylor Bayer, Renata Bilello, Donna Episcopio,  Alexandra Fitzpatrick, Emily Keil, Julia McNeill and Annisa Santiago, cleaned and organized what they could and raised money for anything new they needed to buy.

They arranged for the carpet to be professionally cleaned, updated the toys, brought in storage and hangers and cleaned the room from the top down. Each girl clocked in 50 hours of work to get the room ready.

“When the moms walked in with the children they were so overwhelmed with the change,” Lyons said. “The visual of the room is tremendous. Having all the new equipment is also tremendous… (The girls) are a wonderful example of their faith.”

Both Bilello and Lyons said this makeover is helping with recruitment to the toddler program. More parents want to participate in the programs the room hosts when they see what has been done, Bilello said.

“I felt proud of myself while working on the project,” said Fitzpatrick. “It was a little difficult. I felt that the results were extremely good and exceeded everyone’s expectations.”

“I learned that if a group of very determined girls have their mind on something they can and will achieve it,” said Renata Bilello.

“While working on my Silver Award project, I realized the significance of the work we were putting into the project,”  Episcopio said. “It was fun to ­­work on, and I am so glad that the result of our project provided a safe and fun environment for the kids to play and learn in. This overall experience taught me that anyone can make a difference in the lives of others with hard work and ambition.”

“This project was a lot of work but it was rewarding to see how happy the users of the room were when they saw the room so neat, clean and organized,” Bayer said. “We were a diverse group of girls yet together we worked hard, had fun and realized that we were able to do whatever we put our minds and hearts into and we could actually make a difference in the community. The final result of our efforts and teamwork was gratifying.”