Those of you who follow my column weekly may have noticed that we took a break from the series and featured a local Glen Ellyn group that helps refugees increase their literacy. This week we're going back to the Girl Scout theme and we’re incorporating the increased literacy theme from last week.
Glen Ellyn resident Rachel Del Ciello worked hard to achieve the highest rank the Girl Scouts of the USA offers -- Ambassador.
“They recently re-did the levels and Ambassador is the highest a girl can go, it’s above a Senior Girl Scout,” Del Ciello explains.
For those familiar with the Boy Scouts program, the Ambassador level is similar to Eagle Scout, particularly when it’s combined with the Gold Award.
Del Ciello’s work to increase literacy and help others develop a love of reading spawned during her journey to earn the Gold Award.
When asked about the requirements for earning such an award, Del Ciello said, “It requires a 65-hour community service project, specific badges (journeys at the Ambassador level), and leadership work. Then we just have to find a community need and plan a project around it.”
So, what did Del Ciello do for her project?
She dedicated her time to a school that her grandmother helped found. The San Miguel School, located near the historic Chicago stockyards, serves mostly minority children that have trouble reading and writing English.
Del Ciello checked with the school and found that they needed books and had a very limited library.
“I worked with the principal and librarian. I created a survey for the students to find out what they'd like to read, as that helps them want to read. We used the surveys and student feedback to create a wish list with recommendations for the library books,” said Del Ciello.
She then contacted the local elementary schools, requesting to set up drop boxes and had her project’s information sent out to subscribers in the schools’ e-newsletters. She also included a drop box on the porch of her home, created a Facebook event, and requested the information be included in her own church’s newsletter.
“I received tons of e-mails, worked with Boy Scout troops, and Girl Scout troops. The younger groups even collected for the drive and delivered their collections to me.”
When asked if her project was successful, Del Ciello said, “Very. We collected over 2,600 books. The students at San Miguel helped carry them all up to the fourth floor of the (non-elevator equipped) school building, they were looking through the books on their way; seeing their faces was the most meaningful part of the whole thing.”
When asked about advice for the any younger girls considering the path to Ambassador she said, “always stick with Girl Scouting, even if it’s not what everyone else is doing.”
More information about the Gold Award can be found here.