PAWsitive makeover earns Silver Award

Brooke ConnerFarragut, Our Town Kids

What started as a simple paint project turned into something more as Farragut-based troop 20391 earned their Silver Award, the highest award a Girl Scout Cadette can earn. Ally, Bailey, Sadie and Sarah Beth, all 12 years old, transformed two meet-and-greet dog rooms at the Humane Society of the Tennessee Valley to encourage dog adoption.

The Cadettes knew they wanted to work with animals, so after a visit to the shelter, they found their project: to paint the worn and chipped rooms into more welcoming spaces for the families visiting dogs for adoption. More than 1,000 dogs are adopted every year.

“They saw a need and ran with it,” said Sylvia Pastor, who leads the troop along with Amy Bush.

“We wanted the focus to be on the dogs and not the poor condition of the room,” said Sadie.

Girl Scouts at work at the Humane Society visiting room.

The painting job evolved into much more – the walls were in such bad shape they needed to be prepped with new molding and spackling. Doors, window seals and corners were chewed up, leading to drywall work. When they realized the financial cost of the project, they sought out and were awarded the Joyce Maienschein Leadership Grant, with which they purchased the necessary materials, along with tools to make decorations and baskets filled with treats and toys.

The girls worked with a woodworking expert who donated his time and helped them earn their woodworking badge. Not only did they learn construction, the girls say they improved in their business, leadership, and life skills, and wrote LOTS of thank you letters.

After plenty of Home Depot trips, with prepped and freshly painted walls, the girls each added a piece of art, unique to themselves. These signs and pictures would later serve as backdrops for the adoption photos for the animals.

Finishing the seven-month project in October 2019, the employees have been extremely grateful because they never had the time to update it themselves. The Girl Scouts still volunteer at the shelter by reading to and socializing the animals and attending shelter events.

The troop, which has been saving up to go on a trip to Savannah, Georgia (Girl Scout birthplace), overcame obstacles by learning how to work together as a team, problem-solve on the fly, be flexible with timing and spacing, divide and conquer, and use resources wisely.

Looks like these Girl Scouts have gained invaluable skills that will take them far in life.

Brooke Conner is social media and content coordinator for Girl Scouts of the Southern Appalachians.

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