The Girl Scout Beaver Creek service unit, made up of approximately 54 troops with 500 girls and 200 volunteers, has always been passionate about service and giving back. They decided to take it to a new level and “adopt” an organization for a whole Girl Scout year.
For their inaugural year, they selected the Wesley House, which provides food and fellowship for inner-city senior citizens in Knoxville. The Girl Scouts’ goal was to serve but, ultimately, they gained more than they gave.
The Girl Scouts hosted holiday parties for Thanksgiving, Christmas and Mother’s Day that the seniors would not have been able to celebrate together had the girls not planned the events. For a Granny and Me Tea Party, each troop adopted a senior, also affectionately known as a granny, for the day and gifted them a handmade blanket and teacups. Throughout the year, hundreds of boxes of food and cleaning supplies were donated, as well as plenty of Girl Scout Cookies! When several seniors battled health problems, the Girl Scouts visited and delivered supplies to the hospital.
It turns out that several of the senior citizens were Girl Scouts; some had even achieved the prestigious Girl Scout Gold Award! The girls listened and learned about the importance that Girl Scouting was throughout the elders’ lives. Both learned they had more in common than they ever imagined.
The donations the girls gave throughout the year meant so much, as it often allowed the seniors to have extra money for medicine they may have had to skip. The recipients often cried tears of joy and their reactions brought tears to many of the Girl Scouts. Even still, what touched the girls most was knowing the difference the conversations and connection meant, as many of the grannies often lived alone, and the visit to Wesley House would be the only time that week they would leave the house.
Through rich stories and laughter, they formed friendships and the girls gained wisdom that only one who has experienced a full life can give.
“What they’re gaining now,” said Jennifer Contreras, a troop volunteer, “is going to last them lifetime.”
Brooke Conner is social media and content coordinator for Girl Scouts of the Southern Appalachians.