119 local Girl Scouts earned the Gold Award this year, the organization’s highest distinction.
Fewer than 6% of Girl Scouts earn the award, which involves a community service project. Several of this year’s recipients chose projects benefiting the area’s older residents.
Davi Hopkovitz, for example, led an effort to create tutorial videos to help residents at The Legacy Senior Communities learn Instagram, FaceTime, Gmail, and other tech tools so that they could connect with loved ones.
“I felt if they have a device, they should know more about using it and the perks it offers them,” she explained.
The project was to involve in-person classes initially, but the pandemic presented an added challenge to the plan, Hopkovitz explained.
“I redirected my efforts and decided to make teaching videos illustrating how to use iPhones [and] iPads for specific applications,” she explained.
Other volunteers helped produce the video tutorials, and as the COVID threat subsided, she was invited to teach classes in person. She used the videos as a teaching aid, and they are still available to residents for reference.
“The seniors were very nice to work with, and I enjoyed the interaction and sharing my knowledge,” said Hopkovitz, a 2022 Akiba Yavneh Academy of Dallas graduate. “Also, while making the videos, I needed to learn some new things about that technology. I guess you are never too old to learn new skills!”
Another Gold Award recipient, Hallie Blair Dudley, planted a garden with drought-resistant butterfly-attracting flowers at Celebration Senior Living, an assisted-living community in Denison, Texas.
The 2023 graduate of Pottsboro High School launched the beautification project after learning that the community wanted a butterfly garden in its courtyard.
The community will maintain it moving forward.
Molly Fagelman’s Gold Award project involved leading an effort to create fidget blankets for people with Alzheimer’s disease.
Fagelman, who graduated from The Greenhill School in 2022, got the idea after seeing how such a blanket helped her grandmother.
Fidget blankets are lap-sized quilts that provide sensory and tactile stimulation for people with restless hands, including dementia patients.
The school’s Kindness Club will continue crafting the blankets for residents of the Juliette Fowler Communities in Dallas.
Another recipient of the Gold Award, Vinathi Golkonda, also used her project to help memory-care residents.
The piano player and 2022 Allen High School graduate coordinated musical performances and social opportunities for residents of The Heritage at Twin Creek’s memory care center. Those performances featured musicians from the school’s top bands, orchestras, and choirs.
“I loved seeing the smiles on the residents’ faces, watching the tapping of their feet along with the beat, and hearing their stories of playing piano or other instruments when they were younger,” she said.
When the pandemic began, it presented an added challenge to her project as well, Golkonda said.
“Things were very uncertain because nobody knew how long the quarantine period would last,” she said. “It took some trial and error, but finally, I was able to put together videos sent in by volunteers playing their instrument [and] singing for the residents.”
The good news is that student volunteers will continue the performances moving forward.
Gerri Gordon, who coordinates the Older Girl Program for the Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas, has worked with the organization for nearly three decades.
Around 3,500 Girl Scouts nationwide earn the Gold Award each year.
The common qualities among recipients include:
- Passion to make a difference in the community
- Leadership and project management
- Commitment to a cause and perseverance
- Public speaking and improved communication
She said recipients gain life skills and distinguish themselves in the military and college admissions process.
“Assisting thousands of girls through their Gold Award has been a rewarding experience. I am filled with a profound mix of joy and nostalgia as my time with the organization ends after almost three decades,” Gordon said in June. “This year, like every other, is a testament to the awe-inspiring work these Girl Scouts have undertaken. I am immensely proud of every one of them.”