Like mother, like daughter.
Erin Fuzer of Mt. Laurel chose to follow in her mother’s footsteps and join a Girl Scout troop at a young age. Today, the 15-year-old Lenape High School sophomore is the proud awardee of the highest honor a Girl Scout cadette can earn in her age group, the Silver Award.
Having earned too many badges to count in her 11 years participating in the organization, Fuzer has many accomplishments to be proud of from her experiences. However, to earn the Silver Award within the Girl Scouts, a cadette must be in sixth, seventh or eighth grade, identify an issue she cares about, build a Girl Scout Silver Award team or decide whether to go solo and get out to explore her community.
In addition, she must pick her official project, develop it and make a plan to put it into motion. To conclude her project, the Girl Scout must reflect upon the project, share her story and then ultimately celebrate the project’s completion. Fuzer received her Silver Award on June 5 after having completed the project she titled, “Shelter Helper,” on Sept. 6, 2015.
Her project entailed collecting and donating much-needed items to the Burlington County Animal Shelter alongside her troop, №21902. Items collected during this endeavor included blankets, towels, food and more, and she collected these items from neighbors, friends, local businesses and schools.
Fuzer also came up with the idea to paint colorful paw prints on the previously white walls of the hallway of the shelter that leads to the dogs, attempting to foster a happier atmosphere for possible adopters. The effort to improve the shelter also involved creating a picture board that reads “Burlington County Animal Shelter” for people who adopt from the shelter to take pictures in front of. The purpose for this was to increase the shelter’s presence on social media and to encourage adoptions.
“Once everything was put together, we held an open house at the shelter for two days. At this open house, we invited everyone we knew to come and see our Silver Award project,” Fuzer said. “We gave a tour to everyone who came and showed them everything we did.”
To conclude her project, she also held a grand opening for the picture board where it was first revealed. As people came in to adopt that day, she took a picture of each adopter and their new furry friend in front of the board and printed a copy for them. She also presented a sign-in sheet and a feedback sheet to attendees so they could offer insight into what she could have done differently to improve their overall experiences.
“I choose to do this project because, as a pet owner, I wanted to help make BCAS a place that people really want to go to, to adopt a new pet,” Fuzer said.
While in the process of completing her project, Fuzer admits that communicating with the Burlington County Animal shelter proved somewhat difficult, delaying her project’s completion. However, she received help and support from her troop leader and mother, Eileen, her troop’s co-leader Donna Steacker and from the animal shelter’s workers and volunteers. After having earned her Bronze Award in 2011, Fuzer knew how to seek the help of all the right people.
“[To earn my Bronze Award] my troop did a book drive called Books for Buddies and donated them to Jacobs Chapel in Mt. Laurel. At the time, I was at a junior level in Girl Scouts,” Fuzer said.
By completing these projects, Fuzer said she has met some wonderful people and has been introduced to many great opportunities. The organization has also helped her develop her leadership and communication skills, strengths she will be able to use throughout her life.
Having attained her Silver Award, Fuzer now gives advice to younger girls within the organization on how they can do the same. She credits all of her time spent in the Girl Scouts to leading her to create an immediate bonds with other women she meets who are or have been involved with Girl Scouts as well.
“Overall, Girl Scouts has helped me believe that I am truly capable of anything if I put my mind to it,” Fuzer said.