Erin P. of Hadley
Jessie's House Play Yard Renovation Project

When she began thinking of ideas for her Girl Scout Gold Award Project, Erin knew one thing for certain, “I wanted to do something [to help] children in need…” For as long as she has attended The First Congregational Church of Hadley, Erin’s family has given Christmas gifts to the children at Jessie’s House – a shelter for families in Amherst. “I always enjoyed the idea of picking out a gift to give to a child in need, but I never knew where it was really going.” Thus her project was born.

After meeting with the director of Jessie’s House, Erin decided to focus her efforts on the play yard. What should have been an oasis for children was sitting in disrepair due to a lack of funding. Amidst the run down yard was a play structure covered with mildew, and toys which should have been replaced years ago. With the help of other Girl Scouts, children and her church’s congregation, Erin power washed the play structure, spread fresh mulch, painted a mural, planted flowers and made other small improvements. In addition, Erin secured a donation of new outdoor toys, small bikes, swings, and a basketball hoop for the children. After much hard work, life has returned to the play yard, and it has become more inviting and safe for the children who stay at Jessie’s House.
Erin believes, “What was truly amazing about this project was the connection between the children and older members of the congregation, as well as with the Jessie’s House families… We had three-year-old children alongside  seventy-year-old women planting flowers.” It was truly a group effort. And now  the children of the congregation will know where their Christmas gifts are going and will, hopefully, be inspired, as Erin was, to help those in need.

Erin recently finished her first year at the University of Richmond in Virginia where she is majoring in Leadership Studies and International Business. This summer she’s heading to Argentina to enhance her Spanish language education.