Girl Scouts of the Jersey Shore Recognize 26 Young Women with Girl Scout Gold Award


The Girl Scouts of the Jersey Shore honored 26 exceptional young women with the Girl Scout Gold Award on Tuesday, June 12, at Branches Catering, Long Branch.

First presented more than 100 years ago, the Girl Scout Gold Award is the highest award a Girl Scout can receive and the most difficult award to earn in all scouting. Its recipients over the years rate their general success significantly higher than their peers and report greater success in reaching their goals in many areas, including higher education and careers, life skills and community involvement.

Through the Girl Scout Gold Award, girls in ninth through 12th grade are given an opportunity to engage in leadership at the highest levels while addressing issues they feel passionately about. The honor is earned by less than six percent of Girl Scouts annually and requires girls to demonstrate their leadership skills by tackling a community or global issue. A minimum of 80 hours of community service is required for each project. Many universities and colleges offer scholarships unique to Gold Award Girl Scouts and girls who enlist in the U.S. Armed Forces may receive advanced rank in recognition of their achievements.

For more information about the Girl Scouts of the Jersey Shore, or the Girl Scout Gold Award, visit or call (800) 785-2090.

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Photo Caption


The Girl Scouts of the Jersey Shore honored 26 2018 Gold Award Girl Scouts at a June 12 reception at Branches Catering, Long Branch. The Gold Award is the highest award that a Girl Scout can earn and the most difficult honor to achieve in all of scouting. There are extensive requirements including at least 80 hours of community service with a long-lasting benefit to the community.


Honoree Biographies

Christine Apostolico, Toms River

Jon Bon Jovi Soul Kitchen Herbal Garden

Because her local food pantry lacks the outdoor space for a personal garden, Christine’s Gold Award project focused on donating a portable organic herb garden to the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Kitchen in Toms River, Soul Kitchen is a restaurant that allows its customers to pay for meals through community service. Christine taught kindergartners the importance of healthy eating by letting them plant herb seeds for the Soul Kitchen and their own personal gardens. These plants were cared for and brought to the Soul Kitchen to be utilized in their restaurant, helping to feed those who normally cannot afford formally prepared food.


Ariana Atkinson, Freehold

Garden for the Needy

Ariana’s project addressed the need for emergency food in the Freehold area for those that are less fortunate, disabled or unemployed. She planted a vegetable garden at her local YMCA which included tomatoes, beans and peppers and donated them to the Freehold Open Door. Ariana also hosted food drives at the YMCA, her neighborhood and her summer classes to supplement the produce grown. Ariana’s goal was to raise awareness of the need for food (especially the need for fresh vegetables) in her local community year round, not just at the holidays. Many of her neighbors were helped through her efforts.


Emily Chang, Holmdel

Skating Promotes Fitness and Good Health

Obesity is a growing health issue and has become a global pandemic. As a figure skater, Emily wanted to use her knowledge to raise awareness and address this issue. Skating is an aerobic workout which improves balance and flexibility. Emily’s goal was to promote skating and get people interested in the sport. She organized a National Skating Month event at the Howell Ice Arena and offered free half-hour lessons in addition to recruiting skaters to perform an exhibition. Afterwards, she scheduled a public skate session for families to enjoy a fun activity while also getting a great workout. Emily was able to promote her topic and spread awareness to her community.


Dana Elderhorst, Fair Haven

Be Your Best Self

Dana worked with the nurse and principal of her local elementary school to understand the specific hygiene needs of their 4th grade girls. She developed a program and taught it as a supplement to their health education class. Dana worked with local retailers to get donations for the girls and also obtained a commitment for a washer and dryer to be installed at the school for the nurse’s use. The classes were well received and enjoyed by the girls. The school ultimately decided against installing the machines, but the school was pleased with the outcome of the project and the effect it had on the girls.

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Laura Esposito, Manahawkin

Youth Music Mission

Laura’s project was to focus on exposing and engaging elementary age children and teenagers to the benefits of music in order to foster a positive self-image and a bond with their community, while hosting free performances and events within her community. She also created a website with information regarding upcoming musical events in her community as well as volunteer opportunities.


Alyssa Grieco, Long Branch

Historical Records Management

For Alyssa’s Gold Award project, she spent the summer of 2017 at the Shrewsbury Historical Society archiving their files. She went through their antiquated filing system and created an updated version using Microsoft Excel. The purpose of this project was to make sure in case of a fire or other emergency the files would be accessible and safely stored. She also placed hanging folders inside each filing cabinet to make them more presentable, as they were previously overstuffed and in disarray.


Julia Hamwi, Holmdel

Limitless Recycling Workshop

Julia created a “Limitless Recycling Workshop” to demonstrate the many ways one can be environmentally conscious. All participants were required to bring a pair of gently worn shoes to donate to “ShoeBox Recycling”. Aside from her presentation about her history with recycling as a Girl Scout, she invited three guest speakers to participate. There were also two representatives from the Rutgers Master Gardeners program who discussed the benefits Vermicomposting, as well as the Monmouth County Recycling Coordinator. Julia also had many educational displays, recycling crafts and games to further promote being green in fun and unique ways.


Stephanie Konya, Millstone Township

Exercise Awareness

For her project, Stephanie focused on eating healthier and trying to prevent obesity. She held exercise classes for people ages 16-70 to let them know of the fun and different exercises available so they could stay in shape. She also informed people about the dangers of eating unhealthy and how continuing to go to the gym can help them in their future. She created a blog online, so anyone can access it, with different recipes. These recipes provide people with a healthy alternative and how to eat a balanced diet.


Daphne Lombardi, Freehold

Erudition on Diabetes

The goal of Daphne’s Gold Award was to create awareness for children suffering with diabetes. Diabetes is a metabolic disease in which the body generates high blood sugar levels over a prolonged period of time. The focus of her Gold Award was a mural that focused on the basic knowledge of juvenile diabetes and what can be done to help the cause. After sharing her presentation with family, friends and church youth groups, she was able to display her mural in a local medical office where it is displayed for all the community to read and gain knowledge.


Hannah Morgan, Beachwood

Lend a Hand

Hannah’s project provided sturdy, inexpensive prosthetics to remote medical clinics that use low cost 3D printing technology and common hardware. The donated hands were produced by a New Jersey-based network of volunteers, engineers, students and makers and distributed by the global network of eNable to clinics all over the world. The recipients were children born with congenital limb deficiencies or children who had lost their hands due to cancer, trauma or infection. These children would otherwise not have had access to prosthetics which have the potential to totally transform a person’s life.


Shreya Naraparaju, Marlboro

G.I.R.L. Power


Shreya’s project, titled “G.I.R.L. Power,” primarily sought to address the prevalent issue of women’s rights, which impacts girls everywhere. Within her immediate community, she worked to start a conversation about gender inequality, holding seminars both inside and outside of school to raise awareness about issues like honor violence and children’s education. Shreya further expanded her efforts to communities abroad, teaching a leadership and entrepreneurship class to students living in the slums of Hyderabad, India. The two-week course culminated in the presentation of each team’s business plan, based on their individual start-up ideas.

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Shannon Nutley, Long Branch

Long Branch Covenant Church Rain Garden

For Shannon’s Gold Award project, she built a rain garden in her city that will help combat pollution in the area as well as aid in the constant flooding that occurs in that area. This rain garden was built and plans were made with the help of the Rutgers Environmental Agriculture Experiment Team. This consisted of many things such as re-routing pipes, digging a trench and fighting through the issues that came her way.


Angelica Patel, Ocean Township

The Future of Medicine: In Your Hands Take Action Project

Angelica saw an opportunity in her school to turn their medical club into HOSA, also known as Health Occupations for the Future Students of America. Members are effectively prepared to be the leaders of tomorrow, as HOSA is a national organization. Knowledge, communication and leadership skills are gained from their competitions. It is a club where members are excited to learn about medicine and realize that they have the ability within themselves to meet the demands of the health care community.


Anika Patel, Holmdel

A Day Of Beauty

Anika’s Gold Award project was a “Day of Beauty” for disabled people. Unfortunately, due to the everyday struggles faced, these students don’t always have the opportunity to be pampered. This can lead to low self-esteem and worsening of mental health. Anika believes that when you look and feel your best, you can accomplish more so she decided to help others feel beautiful, confident and promote better mental health. She organized a day at the school providing services such as nails, hair and makeup all conducted by her team of peers. As a result of the event, there was a greater awareness for mental well-being in this population.


Shelby Pickelny, Ocean Township


After years of being bullied because of her acne and watching close family members suffer from dangerous skin conditions, it was clear to Shelby that she wanted to make a difference in how people treated their own -and other people’s- skin. I’mperfect was created to raise awareness of the potentially dangerous ingredients in skin care products, like sunscreen and make up. It became her goal to inform as many people as possible. she visited multiple health classes in her high school, fellow Girl Scout troops across New Jersey and even attended town events. For more information, please visit


Diya Sethi, Morganville

Geriatric Caner Patient Pals

Diya implemented a volunteer support program for geriatric cancer patients at Care One in her community. After doing research and meeting with professionals from both Centrastate and CareOne, Diya created and prepared a training module to teach her volunteers how to handle sensitive issues when conversing with these patients. After training her volunteers, she paired each of them up with a geriatric cancer patient to become “pals” where the volunteers would spend time listening and conversing with the patients. Diya’s program brought much joy to the patients and her program will be continued on at CareOne.


Emma Singleton, Fair Haven

The Crescendo Initiative

The goal of the Emma’s project, called the Crescendo Initiative, was to provide musical instruments and instruction to underprivileged children in the Red Bank community; she wanted to increase interest in musical education in the Red Bank Public Schools. Emma held the program at the Boys and Girls Club of Red Bank and gave weekly instruction to children at the facility. She felt that it was a very rewarding project and she will always be thankful for the opportunity to spread a love for music to young children.


Joy Sodon, Whiting

Hawk’s Haven

For Joy’s Gold Award project, she chose to build a vegetable/flower garden at her school. Her school had recently added an environmental science class that was in need of hands-on lab opportunities. During the planting process, Joy enlisted the help of the special education class, who had been looking for a sensory activity to do. The garden has been a tool open to many classes in the school, provided many fresh vegetables to the local food bank and helped improve the aesthetic of the school.


Kayleigh Soucy, Beachwood

Are You Gone?

Kayleigh’s Gold Award addressed the issue of the inactivity of children and adolescents in her community. To properly take action towards fixing this problem, she spent one year spreading the awareness of this issue and providing valuable tips on how to lead a healthier life and another year actively involving the younger generations of her community in a series of active games such as kickball or basketball.

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Julia Thompson, Manahawkin

CPR Awareness and Hands On Training

Julia’s project involved teaching hands only CPR to many students and members across multiple communities to help save lives. While participating at local events in her community and teaching hands-only CPR, Julia was able to train hundreds of people and distribute pamphlets she created with steps how to perform hands-only CPR, therefore having the potential to save countless lives.


Cassidy Turnbach, Manasquan

‘Squan Environmental

Cassidy’s project focused on educating her community about recycling and alternative ways to go green to make a difference for the planet. Cassidy participated in local events to spread awareness and worked with the Environmental Commission and the Monmouth County Recycling Coordinator to learn the facts and also created a website that can be accessed for everyone.


Julia Wagner, Fair Haven

BEE Aware!

For her Gold Award, Julia became a beekeeper by installing and caring for two Italian honeybee hives at a local property in Rumson, New Jersey that grows food for Lunch Break. She then presented her experience from her project, what she learned in the process and educated students on how and why to save the honeybees at Deane-Porter and Forestdale schools. She chose her project because honeybees are an important aspect of our environment and their population is decreasing.


Catherine Ware, Manasquan

‘Squan Beach Life Saving Station #9 Garden

The gardens at Squan Beach Life Saving Station No. 9 is a project that provides landscaping for a site listed on both the National and New Jersey Registries of Historic Places. After recent renovations, the site was in need of landscaping. The gardens Catherine grew include native flowers and plants, specifically those that attract monarch butterflies. In the last decade, monarch butterfly populations have diminished significantly and this garden will allow the monarch butterflies to rest, reproduce and feed in a safe environment.


Lindsey White, Manasquan

Dottie’s House Apartment Refurnishing, Outfitting and Move In

Lindsey’s project was to fully furnish and decorate an apartment for a victim of domestic abuse and her family. Lindsey did so by collecting donations and fundraising through a car wash and lemonade stand. After giving a safe comfortable home to a woman and child in need at Dottie’s House Women’s shelter, she is also proud to say that this woman is able to keep all necessary furniture and easily transition into life outside of the shelter.


Kirsten Worrall, Jackson

Stories & Achievements of Women

Kirsten’s Gold Award was a project that helped preserve the stories of women. She went to the Orchards (an assisted living facility) and interviewed the women living there. She filmed and edited these interviews to create a DVD that showcased the stories of these women. Then on Grandparents’ Day, she hosted the viewing of the movie at the Orchards. She gifted the DVD of the film at the Orchards so that the people living there can forever remember those women.


Ashley Yu, Holmdel

We Can Cook!

Ashley’s Gold Award Take Action Project addressed the importance of cooking as a crucial life skill for the special needs population. For her project, “We Can Cook!” she taught a series of cooking classes to special needs adults at Family Resource Associates (FRA) in Shrewsbury, N.J. Her goal was to foster confidence and a greater level of independence for her students. Additionally, she completed an FRA kitchen reorganization project and donated “Wish List” items due to her fundraising efforts. She also created a special “We Can Cook!” cookbook for her students to help instill their love of cooking.

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