Girl Scouts Make a Difference

Girl Scouts Make a Difference

Two diligent and industrious local Girl Scouts -- Emily Bowers and Stephanie VanCheri of Troop 20069 and freshmen at Silver Creek High School -- were recently presented the Silver Award, the second highest award of the Girl Scouts of the USA. 

The concept of this award is for a small group of Cadette Girl Scouts to identify a community need that overlaps with their own areas of interest then develop and execute a project to address that need. The girls, who are both members of the Junior National Honor Society, began the planning process in August 2019 and it didn’t take long for them to identify this overlap of interest and need. 

Both Bowers and VanCheri developed an affinity for sewing and cooking after a series of Family and Consumer Science (FACS) classes in middle school. As a result, they’d often get together to cook or sew, hauling sewing machines, received as Christmas gifts, back and forth between houses. Although they thoroughly enjoyed and learned much in FACS class, they often experienced the frustration of working with decades-old equipment that didn’t always cooperate. At times, it was difficult for students to accomplish tasks, even though FACS staff always ensured the students were successful. Bowers and VanCheri decided they wanted to improve the experience for future Black Knights. And so, this became the community need they chose to address for their Silver Project. 

Bowers and VanCheri began by requesting a “wish list” from FACS staff, pricing it out, then getting to work on raising funds. They put their sewing and cooking skills to work by holding bake sales and sewing items for craft fairs. However, soon into their efforts, the COVID-19 pandemic struck, seemingly stifling all their fundraising opportunities. After realizing there would be no quick end to the shutdown caused by COVID-19, the girls once again put their ingenuity and skills to work and began sewing masks for donation or sale. As the months passed, the girls continued making masks, bags, and holiday crafts to sell. With the help of social media, local businesses, and a very generous and supportive community, the girls were finally able to raise all of the needed funds.  Although it took nearly 6 months longer to meet their goal than planned, the girls proved that even a pandemic would not stand in their way. 

They raised enough money to purchase ALL of the items on the FACS original wish list at a cost of $4,500. Items included two gas ranges, a refrigerator, laundry dryer, five Singer sewing machines, four KitchenAid mixers with attachments, four blenders, iron, ironing board with covers, brooms with dustpans, dish soap, and many more kitchen and sewing supplies.

“Stephanie and I were happy to use our funds to benefit the FACS program,” said Bowers. “The program has taught us many important life skills we use daily, such as sewing and cooking, and we were even able to use these skills to fundraise.”

 “I feel extremely proud to be a part of something that will impact so many students lives,” said VanCheri. “This project will make learning so much easier for the students who will be using these supplies for the years to come.”

All items were delivered to the FACS room near Christmastime and were gratefully and graciously accepted by FACS staff, who were so touched by what the girls had done and humbly questioned how they became the fortunate recipient of their efforts.

Bowers and VanCheri were recognized by the Silver Creek Board of Education on Jan. 28 for their undertaking and successful outcome.

“We are so proud of Emily and Stephanie for their hard work and their thoughtful and considerate gesture, especially during such a trying time,” said Superintendent Todd A. Crandall. “Their efforts will help so many more of their fellow students gain valuable skills and hopefully be inspired by these two Black Knights to give back to their community. This took a lot of time and perseverance on their part, and the district is very grateful and impressed.”

They are both accomplished students active in their school community.

VanCheri on the SCCS girls’ soccer team and, outside of school, plays travel soccer with Concord FC.  She is a member of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church.

Bowers is on the SCCS cross-country team, a member of Student Council, Key Club and Youth Activation Committee. She is in the Band and Chorus and participates in solo festivals. She was previously selected to play in All County Band at Chautauqua Institute. She is performing in the High School Music Showcase, and has also played in the Pit Band.  Outside of school, Emily is a competitive dancer with Infinity Dance Academy, and also helps teach dance to young children, and children and adults with special needs. She also plays trumpet, piano, various ukuleles, and sings. She is an altar server for Our Lady of Mt. Carmel RC Church.

Both Bowers and VanCheri would like to recognize some of their donors and partners throughout the project:  Patton Electric Company, Little Busy B’s, Crescent Manufacturing, Mia Bella’s Consignment Boutique, Walmart, Cheryl Smith, Diefenbach Family, Pagano Family, Hock Family, Jennifer Cave, Tina Strano, and the many other generous community members who donated or purchased items.  Without community support, this project would not have been possible.

The FACS program is intended to teach all Silver Creek middle-schoolers important life skill concepts such as sewing, cooking, and child care. Bowers and VanCheri hope their efforts will help to improve the FACS experience and education for all students for many years to come.  

“FACS class is so important to prepare kids for the real world,” said VanCheri. “And making a difference in so many lives makes me feel extremely proud.”

“Our hopes in donating this equipment is that we can provide a better and safer FACS education for other students, as the skills students are taught in those programs are very important skills to have,” said Bowers.

Silver Creek CSD is thankful to Bowers and Van Cheri and impressed that these Black Knights are embodying the Girl Scout Promise and Law by serving their community, being considerate and courageous, and by making the world a better place.