Nine Girl Scouts — all from the same troop — and a Boy Scout were honored at a recent Mt. Laurel council meeting.
The ladies all achieved the Gold Award, the highest rank a Girl Scout can achieve. The lone young man reached Eagle Scout, the top honor for Boy Scouts.
Diana Grande was enthusiastic about receiving the commendation from the council.
“I’m really excited about it and it’s nice for all of us to represent the Girl Scouts of Southern New Jersey,” she said.
Grande’s project was to make people aware of the new statewide anti-bullying policy. She said she wants to stay involved in college and undertake community service there, too.
Rachael Weiss, 17, is a student at Bishop Eustace.
“I’m really excited and I’m happy to serve my community,” she said. “I’m really proud.”
Weiss’ project was to raise awareness of ovarian cancer, and to teach the signs and symptoms of the disease. She made a Facebook page, created a video and used social media to get the word out. She also introduced ovarian cancer awareness in her school’s health curriculum.
One way she will stay involved with the Scouts is helping with the annual Christmas party for residents at the Camden Urban Women’s Shelter.
Allie Salisbury, 17, worked with Weiss to promote ovarian cancer awareness.She also brought it into her school, Bishop Eustace.
Zoey Atabek and her sister, Paris, traveled to Ghana in West Africa and delivered school and dental supplies to orphanages and hospitals.
“I feel like I really helped out the community,” Zoey said. “It just feels so great to give back to people in need.”
The Lenape High student said she was moved by how little the people of Ghana have.
“It was an amazing experience,” she said. “It was definitely life changing.
“I realize how much I take for granted here.”
Zoey said she wants to go back to Ghana.
Paris said among other things, she helped children learn to brush their teeth.
“It was moving,” Paris said. “It was nice to see them cherish these items.”
Erin McDougall, 18, donated books to Ronald McDonald House in Camden.
“It’s a really good feeling reaching out and helping others,” the Bishop Eustace student said. “Some people think it’s unattainable to be able to help another person, but it’s really not — and if you put your heart into it, you can really do a very good job of it.”
Lenape High student Katie Williamson, 18, said she worked “really hard” on her project, which was to build a butterfly prayer garden at Jacob’s Chapel.
“I learned that it’s a lot of work to work with a large group to build anything,” Williamson said. “I love my troop and I’ve had a great experience.”
Courtney Smoyer researched information about slaves buried at Jacob’s Chapel, which was a stop on the Underground Railroad, for her project.
The 17-year-old created an activity booklet to hand out to visitors at the chapel.
“I know it’s going to open a lot doors for us,” Smoyer said of the Girl Scouts.
Susan Fattman, whose daughter, Melanie, couldn’t make the meeting, accepted the commendation on her behalf.
Melanie opened a children’s library at the Camden Urban Women’s Shelter and goes every other Friday to read to the children — and lets them take out books.
“I’m so proud of her,” Susan said.
Julie Williamson, Troop 26739 leader, had high praise for her Scouts.
“I am very proud of them. They each found something that interested them and sought out organizations and businesses to provide services,” she said. “They traveled around the world and around the neighborhoods to make these projects come true.”
Evan Smoyer, brother to Courtney, is in Boy Scout Troop 15.
He’s always looked up to friends who are Eagle Scouts, and is happy to attain it as well.
“It was a goal I wanted to reach,” Evan said. “I’m happy about it.”
The 16-year-old brought trees from a nursery to plant along the edge of the lake at Laurel Acres Park and the dog run to provide shade.
“It is encouraging and heartwarming to present proclamations to these young ladies and this young man, recognizing the great projects they have completed right here in Mount Laurel,” Mayor Jim Keenan said. “It makes you smile to know that our future will be in their good hands.”