Eleni, a 10-year Girl Scout, was a 2017 Gold Award recipient for her Project Memories of Angels. This prestigious award is the highest achievement a Girl Scout can earn, recognizing extraordinary leadership through Take Action projects that impact their communities.
Eleni recently shared about her journey to becoming a Gold Award recipient through her project, which honors babies too fragile for this world and provides memory boxes to families in need.
What inspired you to start this project?
The inspiration for Project Memories of Angels (PMOA) is from my personal journey into this world. I am a Neonatal Intensive Care (NICU) baby survivor. Through the help of the NICU staff and doctors, I was able to be carried home by [my] parents after an extended stay in the NICU. However, this is not always the case for parents who give birth to a very fragile and tiny baby.
The NICU at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital partnered up with a national program called Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep (NILMDTS). NILMDTS provides respectful pictures of the babies that are too fragile to live in this world. PMOA wanted to provide the photo albums for the NILMDTS photographs as well as a handcrafted wooden memory box for other mementos of the baby (for example: lock of hair, hand/foot prints, and baby blanket). As a NICU survivor, I feel this is the best way to honor the legacy of a baby.
What was your favorite part of the process?
My favorite part of POMA was delivering the memory boxes to the hospital. The PMOA delivery team was welcomed by the hospital with such care and love. Seeing the expressions on the medical staff’s faces as they examined and opened the handcrafted wooden memory boxes made me realize the impact of PMOA was greater than I expected when I started this project. At that moment, I truly understood the impact the memory boxes would have on parents who needed a way to honor their precious baby.
What does being a Girl Scout mean to you?
Being a Girl Scout is about living above ourselves. It is about the pursuit of doing something great for others. It embodies the virtues of integrity, honesty, ethical behavior, charity, and love for one’s neighbor. Through this, a Girl Scout will transcend into being the best version of herself. The Girl Scout organization and my Gold Award project have made me a better daughter, sister, and friend. I know that I will always be part of a loving and caring Girl Scout community and family.
Girl Scouts Council of the Southern Appalachians is so proud to have Eleni as a member and world-changing G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader)! She is just one example that shows why Girl Scouts is the premier leadership development program for girls. Across the globe, Girl Scouts offers every girl a chance to practice a lifetime of leadership, adventure, and success.
The Girl Scout Gold Award is open only to girls in high school and is the most prestigious and most difficult award to earn in the world for girls. As a Gold Award Girl Scout, girls are challenged to make the world a better place. These young women are inspiring leaders whose Gold Award projects are impacting the worlds of STEM, education, agriculture, medicine, and more on a local, national, or global level. By the time they put the final touches on their seven-step project, they’ll have solved a community problem—not only in the short term, but for years into the future. To learn more about earning a Gold Award, go here.