Monday, June 15, 2020
Cristina Cabrera Jarro
SOUTHWEST RANCHES | Not even a pandemic could stop Junior Girl Scout Troop 10304 from a service mission.
Although they have been physically apart, the 21 members of the troop from St. Mark School check in twice a month via the video-conferencing Zoom app. They focus on several projects they have undertaken to support those affected by COVID-19.
One project, called Words of Hope, has brought illustrated encouragement not only to patients, nurses, doctors and hospital staff at Broward Health, but also to the residents of Ashton Place Senior Living in Clifton Springs, New York.
Troop leader and mom Mayte Insua-Auais came across an ad on social media from Sips n Strokes, a casual instructional painting franchise, promoting a “Color for a Cause” campaign. The goal was for kids to color pictures and write messages for nursing home residents who haven't had visitors since the pandemic began.
“I brought the idea to the girls, and they were quick to volunteer and create pictures,” Insua-Auais said. She collected the drawings and sent them to Sips n Strokes
The girls colored and personalized 17 different drawings. One featured a rose with the message “We’re with you”; another depicted a bumblebee with “Don’t worry, be happy” written on the side; and another was a collage of flowers, stars and hearts with the message “Trust in God! To all our doctors and nurses, thank you!”
Two weeks later, Insua-Auais saw an ad for Ashton Place Senior Living on Facebook, and she thought about sharing with them the art messages the girls had made. In a Zoom meeting, the troop discussed how the COVID-19 crisis affected each state differently, and how a project like this could help.
“They came up with the idea of sending the picture to other places, including nursing homes and hospitals. So our project, 'Words of Hope' began. They were excited to be involved somehow in helping people feel better during this crisis,” said Insua-Auais.
Although they never heard back from Sips n Strokes, they did hear back from the director of marketing at Ashton Senior Living: an email saying, “Wow! That sounds great, thank you for thinking of us.”
The troop also sent drawings to Broward Health. A nurse there who is involved with Girl Scouts posted on Facebook a picture of the hospital's hallways filled with art from St. Mark School's Girl Scouts, as well as other troops.
“Thank you again to all the ladies that participated to help spread some joy to everyone all around the hospital,” the nurse wrote.
“I liked the activity because it meant giving other people happiness when they walked into the hospital during this difficult time," said Girl Scout and St. Mark School student Gabriela Perez. "COVID-19 is scary because it’s hurting a lot of people, and the drawings were a way to bring some light to everybody working so hard to help others.”
Throughout May, the Girl Scouts also worked on “Project Comfy Ears,” creating headbands with buttons which, when worn, help alleviate the pressure caused by the ear straps on face masks. The troop set a goal of making a minimum of 200 headbands by June and donating them to nurses, doctors and police officers.
The Scouts' work has earned them patches for service and learning during the COVID-19 crisis.
“Several fun patches have been created to help the girls understand COVID-19 itself, the importance of staying healthy, social distancing benefits, emergency preparedness, and community involvement, to name a few,” said Insua-Auais.
But no number of patches can replace social and physical togetherness.
“I love being home with my family and I feel safe with them. But I miss my friends and my teachers. I pray to God this virus goes away soon,” said Julianna Auais, Insua-Auais' daughter.
Fellow Girl Scout Olivia Pereira expressed a similar sentiment but added: “We need to remind ourselves during this time to trust in God and know we are in this together.”