story & photo
by Maren Schober
For many of us the month of March means Cookies!, as the Cookie Monster on Sesame Street says. In particular we anticipate a knock on our door and the opportunity to order our favorite Girl Scout cookies. For me it is the Thin Mints, my all time favorite. At the same time we are reminded of the Girl Scouts and the good they do in our communities.
Elizabeth Maloney, 17, of East Lyme is as enthusiastic today about her experiences in Girl Scouts as she was in the beginning. There is no thought of quitting Girl Scouts even as she approaches earning the Gold Award, which is the highest award in Girl Scouts.
“There is no need for me to quit Girl Scouts after I achieve the Gold Award,” Liz tells me. “There is always more Girl Scout programs to join. I also love to encourage younger Girl Scouts to stay in this wonderful program as well as teach them camping skills.”
Liz explains to me her current project which will earn her Gold Award this summer. “I plan to teach an eight session Special Needs Tennis Clinic at East Lyme High School this July for children with special needs. The needs of these children are so individual that I will be teaching them one at a time. To do this I need to enlist the help of many professionals and service clubs in the area. I am doing all the planning from the ground up.”
Liz is also involved in many other community service projects. “I serve on the Girl Scout Board of Directors, work at the Old Lyme Shoreline Soup Kitchen, and am an active member of Best Buddies, a high school club that pairs typical and atypical students to better integrate the atypical students into the main stream. Next month I will begin to volunteer at the Crescent Point Assisted Living Home in Niantic.”
This past Wednesday, Liz had an experience she will never forget. “I was given the opportunity to travel to Hartford and have private meetings with Senators and Representatives, including our own Representative Ed Jutila!, to advocate for what I love about Girl Scouts as well as our new initiative to stop cyber bullying. I spoke at a press conference in front of a room full of politicians, cameras and news reporters and got to induct House Majority Leader Denise Merrill as an honorary Girl Scout. The whole day was amazing and gave me a true look into the workings of politics and the difference you can make on a statewide level!”
“Doing community service is so rewarding in many ways,” Elizabeth concludes. “So join in! If you find a cause you are really passionate about, it doesn’t become “service” or work, it becomes fun. You have the chance to enrich other’s lives while enriching your own.”