24 receive Gold Award

Christie Frandsen teared up in the Lanterman Auditorium on Sunday afternoon as she commenced the 2011 La Cañada Girl Scout awards ceremony. “This ceremony is a bit emotional for me because my baby is here receiving her Gold Award,” Frandsen said.

Frandsen’s daughter Eva was one of 24 young women receiving the Gold Award, the highest honor a Girl Scout can achieve and one that recognizes a Scout’s commitment of 65 or more hours to a volunteer service project.

Gold Award recipients Kathryn Battaglia and Samantha Smith of Troop 5611 collaborated on a project to replace and restock a dilapidated library at the Can-Do Kids Club, an after-school program for at-risk youth in Pasadena. Raising more than $7,000, they purchased a new structure and with help from family and volunteers, they installed carpet, lighting, bookcases, benches and hardware in the new building. The teens collected and purchased 3,000 new books, which they catalogued and organized in the new library.

In addition to those receiving the Gold Award, 175 other Girl Scouts in elementary and middle school earned bronze and silver awards for their volunteer efforts.

Several younger Girl Scout troops planted hundreds of trees in their efforts to replant sections of the Angeles Crest Forest that was devastated in the 2009 Station fire.

“I took a class to be a supervisor for the replanting effort and my girls planted close to 100 trees,” said Doreen Aitelli, leader of Troop 7361.

Although many troops and Gold Award recipients chose to focus on local charities and organizations, other Girl Scouts pursued more global topics.

Inspired by her visit to Tanzania and her interest in the African continent, Kelly Gregg, 18, co-founded a discussion forum called DREAMS (Discussing Rights for women, Education, AIDS, Malaria and Safe water) for the Africa Club at La Cañada High School.

“Initially I was focused on water issues, but there are so many interconnected issues…if the girls [in African countries] don’t have clean water and the average girl in Sub Saharan Africa walks five kilometers to get water, they don’t spend that time in school,” Gregg said.

Gregg hosted a day in Memorial Park in March to raise awareness about local and global water issues. The Africa Club has purchased clean-water materials and made donations to several non-profit water organizations.

Eva Frandsen’s volunteer project also had a global scope, as she informed scout troops and school classes about the 100 million people worldwide who need, but do not have access to, wheelchairs. Successfully staging a benefit concert for her cause, she raised more than $10,000, which she used to purchase 172 wheelchairs through Free Wheelchair Mission, a distribution agency.

During the ceremony, Christie Frandsen pointed out that while only 5% of girls who start with Girl Scouts will complete a Gold Award project, in La Cañada that number is 50%.

“La Cañada is filled with parents who are willing to pay the price for their children’s exceptional achievements. That price is time and effort and encouragement and it really pays off, “ wrote Frandsen in an email.

Frandsen is herself a troop leader and mother of five Girl Scouts and three sons who’ve attained the Eagle Scout designation with the Boy Scouts.

“Both the Boy and Girl Scouts organizations are unparalleled in giving young people skills to be leaders…and a realization that they are responsible to make the world a better place,” Frandsen said.

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