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Amber Childres

Girl Scout Trades in Traditional Spring Break for Volunteerism, Earns Gold Award

HOUSTON (March 2009) – Spring Break is generally a time to ditch the books and hit the beach, a tradition much-anticipated by high school and college students alike. But some spring breakers opt for a more altruistic alternative: community service. Take, for example, Noureen N., a Girl Scout Juliette who spent her week off from school helping others in need.

A junior at The Kinkaid School, Noureen remodeled the social services area of Houston’s Notre Dame Church to earn the Girl Scouts of San Jacinto Council Gold Award, the highest award a Girl Scout can achieve. Less than 5 percent of girls who join Girl Scouts earn this recognition.

As part of her project, Noureen collected more than 200 hardcover books from local libraries and solicited donations of toys and games from neighbors and friends. With the help of nearly 20 volunteers, Noureen repainted the run-down social services room, separated the office and play areas, and brought in new furniture for extra seating. In addition, local children who often visit the church helped to paint a flower mural on one of the walls.

“Spring break provides the best opportunity to do service projects,” says Noureen, who logged more than 120 hours on her project. “You have much more free time during the break to do a bigger job, and it’s when all of your volunteers are available to help out. The more time you have to commit to the project without the distractions of school work and other activities, the better the end result will be.”

Earning the Gold Award is a significant honor that requires recipients to demonstrate outstanding leadership skills, career planning, community involvement and personal development. It takes more than 100 service hours and two to three years of intensive work to complete the award requirements, which include planning and completing a project that is a service to the community.

“My daughter has learned so much about compassion while working on her Gold Award,” says Noureen’s mother. “Seeing first-hand how the children who visit this place look up to my daughter and how much they really need her, has made me very proud.”

Noureen has been involved in Girl Scouting since second grade, and enjoys camping and riding horses. She plans to attend college after high school with an interest in studying architecture.

Girl Scouts of the USA is the world's preeminent organization for girls, with a membership of more than 3.7 million girls and adults. Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place. Chartered by GSUSA to provide Girl Scouting locally, Girl Scouts of San Jacinto Council is one of the largest Girl Scout councils in the country serving more than 65,000 girl members and 17,000 adults in 26 southeast Texas counties. For more information call 1-800-392-4340 or visit