MAPLEWOOD, NJ — Phoebe Holt-Reiss and Evelyn Van de North, members of Girl Scout Troop 22831 in Maplewood, earned the Girl Scout Silver Award, the highest award available for achievement to a Girl Scout Cadette.
To earn the Silver Award, girls work alone or together in small groups to identify an issue or problem that they would like to work toward improving. They spend at least 50 hours on the leadership project, which has to be approved by the Girl Scout Council. Each project has to have an element of sustainability, meaning that once the project is finished, there is something that will carry on in the future, such as a continued program or reference to others.
For their project, Holt-Reiss and Van de North created libraries for families to use at three Interfaith Hospitality Network emergency shelter sites. Interfaith Hospitality Network offers a number of services to homeless families, including emergency shelter through a network of churches and synagogues in Essex County. Reading and books are very important to Holt-Reiss and Van de North, who realized that books are cumbersome for IHN families to pack and move with their belongings, so the young ladies created libraries for families to access while staying at the three sites: Morrow Memorial Church in Maplewood; Our Lady of Sorrows Church in South Orange; and St. Stephen’s Church in Millburn.
Holt-Reiss and Van de North collected donations of gently used books from generous community members. Books collected were for all levels of readers, from pre-readers through adult. To house the books, the Cadettes purchased wooden crates with funds raised at a bake sale they planned and implemented. They then painted the crates bright colors and created multiple book crates for each IHN site so that each family living “pod” could have its own book crate, complete with a variety of books for the entire family to enjoy. The girls collected hundreds of books, created 10 crates, and donated filled crates and bags of extra “replenishment” books to each of the three sites.
Holt-Reiss and Van de North worked diligently on their project during the summer of 2016, and had all books delivered to IHN sites and all required paperwork submitted to Girl Scout Council by the fall. They received their Silver Awards in November.