Even though they're only in high school, three remarkable Conyers Girl Scouts are entering their golden years.
Heritage senior Elan Davis, 17 and Salem seniors Tiffany Williams 17 and Michelle Gerido, 17, of the Conyers Service Guild Troop 2505 have all reached a level few Girl Scouts have achieved
All three are wrapping up work on projects for their Gold badge - the highest badge a Girl Scout can obtain.
To reach this, the three life-long Girl Scouts (who signed up in fourth grade), have worked, sweated, planned for more than the 65 hours required, along with going through a rigorous interview, planning and preparation process, said Troop leaders Lillie Nesbit and Amanda Olmstead, both Gold level Girl Scouts themselves who have watched these girls grow into young women.
For her project, Davis decided to take on some of the needs of the Refuge Pregnancy Center, including sowing window covers and collecting donated toys and items and rallying volunteers.
Her interest in working with the Refuge Center, housed at the Lighthouse Village, started in 2008 when she and her Troop served a meal at the Hagar House for homeless women and families. She said she realized the residents didn't need food as much as many other items, such as suitcases, toys, clothes and everyday objects.
To collect these items, she addressed more than 100 letters to solicit her neighbors for donations, and created a pamphlet for the Center that she handed out in church parking lots, nearly getting stopped by a deputy at one point. The lively senior also collected, inventoried and delivered the items to the Refuge Center. She also set up an email account for those interested in volunteering, and has referred at least 10 people to help out with the program, she said.
Williams and Gerido also rolled up their sleeves and got their hands dirty, literally, for their gold badge project.
The two decided to tame a cross country trail that runs behind Salem High School and not only make it a safe place to run, but a pleasant one too.
Gerido took the north portion of the trail, cutting down trees, planting grass, clearing a path and even building two bridges and boardwalks across muddy, wet areas.
Williams took the south portion of the trail, cutting into the hillside itself to make the trail surface level and safe to run on rather than sloping. She also cut down trees, planted grass to help control erosion and built a bench. Both girls said they learned much about construction, tools and fighting mosquitoes since they started their project last August.
While many of their cohort have dropped away from the Troop at that level, either because they moved away or became interested in doing other things, Williams, Davis and Jerida said they stuck around because of the fun they have.
When their friends hear them talk about Girl Scout activities, said Gerido, "People are like, 'You're still doing that?'"
"This is the best experience of my life," said Davis. "Nothing else my mom signed me up for has topped this."
The regional ceremony to award the Gold badges will be held sometime this spring, with the date to be determined, said Nesbit.