Building a better future

Published 3:43 pm Tuesday, August 11, 2020

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Local girl scouts, Kiwanis Club work together

With extra time on their hands during this summer, several young girls put their minds—and hands—together to complete a service project that will make a positive difference in the lives of children in the community.

As members of Girl Scout Troop 13161 shared their plans and hopes during a Zoom meeting with the Kiwanis Club of Tryon, the girls and troop leader, Jamie Weathers, quickly found avid support and real hands-on assistance from Kiwanians.

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“Of course, with social distancing, we couldn’t ‘shake’ hands on this joint effort, but we did agree our Club would support the ideas and enthusiasm of these girl scouts,” said Kiwanis Club President Andy Millard. “Like their girl scout cookies, it was an easy sell; Kiwanis Club of Tryon is focused on projects that improve the lives of children in our community.”

Taking the lead, the girl scouts chose to create a reading nook at Roseland Community Center to enhance the afterschool and summer programs. The idea, Weathers said, came about during a book fair at Tryon Elementary School when LaTisha Miller, youth director at Roseland, was there to buy books for the neighborhood center. After collaborating with Miller to learn how they could help, the Girl Scouts decided to enhance the reading nook with extra touches like bookshelves, a comfy rug, throw pillows and decorations to inspire students to read more.

While it would have been easier to collect money to purchase these enhancements, Weathers said the girls wanted to do more. They wanted to build and paint two bookcases that would shelve the new and donated books they’d collected throughout Polk County.

Kiwanians Lee Cobourn and Colin Carrigan volunteered to help the girls learn new skills using a large T square and tape measures.

With masks and goggles, hammers and nails, the girls built more than bookshelves this summer. They practiced math and fractions while measuring, learned the value of patience, and gained new friends across the generations.

Learning from the seasoned carpenters, the 4th and 5th grade students described their instructors as professional, knowledgeable, kind and patient—especially helpful if a mistake was made while sanding, gluing or pulling nails.

For Cobourn and Carrigan, the building project has been fun during a summer different from every previous one they have lived in. Helped the girls determine how much wood was needed to create the height, width, depth and spacing needed for the shelves. The team then met with Barry Pryor, manager of Henson’s Building Materials in Tryon, and upon hearing their plans, he promptly donated some needed materials.

With contributions from the Kiwanis Club and Henson’s, the Girl Scouts are hoping to encourage other contributions to this project. If not, they’re prepared to learn to hook a rug and sew a few throw pillows.

“The girls have enjoyed learning new things, and it means more when they are involved in making the items instead of going to the store and buying it,” Weathers said. “If we have to buy things, we hope to buy from local businesses and local people to show our support.”

With a timeline to complete the bookshelves by mid-August, the girls will have put in the necessary 20 hours per scout to be eligible for a Bonze award, the third highest ranking award given by the national Girls Scouts organization.

“We have so much faith in Girl Scout Troop 13161, and we won’t be surprised when they earn that award,” Millard said. “Kiwanis Club has partnered with these kids and watched them grow up over the past few years. Like the high school Key Club, these Girl Scouts have helped our Kiwanis Club with the several fundraisers, which we greatly appreciate. And of course, we love to support their cookie sales.”

While summer is winding down, Weathers said the Girl Scouts look forward to completing this book nook project that will help children at Roseland Community Center enjoy reading.

“They’ve been working very hard with Lee and Colin,” Weathers said. “And the girls are pretty excited about the difference this project will make for some children as they learn and practice reading.”

During a difficult summer of facial masks and social distancing, Girl Scout Troop 13161 learned, as Kiwanis Club members know, that giving time and effort can improve the lives of children and the community in which they live. The scouts learned valuable lessons – that spreading kindness and caring about others make the world a better place.


Submitted by Kathy Woodham