My name is Michelle Misterka and I am the proud mother of two beautiful girls.  I have been lucky enough to be their Girl Scout troop leader since they were each in Kindergarten.  This means I have been a troop leader for the past 7 years.  I currently lead a Junior Girl Scout troop and a Cadette Girl Scout troop. I have enjoyed doing many activities over the years with both of the troops.  I am very proud of all my girls.

One of the most fulfilling experiences was watching my older troop go through their Bronze Award adventure.  They enthusiastically set lofty goals for themselves and completely smashed those goals.  I thought it would be nice to hear this story from the girls’ perspective so I asked my daughter to write a short explanation of her bronze award undertaking. The girls worked extremely hard and had a lot of fun during this experience. I was surprised and very pleased with all that they learned.  I can’t wait to start next year with my younger troop and their Bronze award journey! 🙂

Girl Scout Bronze Award
Hunger Strikes the Stomachs of College Students Too!

unnamed (1)The Girl Scout Bronze Award, I am told, is the highest honor a Girl Scout Junior can achieve.  Other than learning responsibility and proper communication skills, it helped me learn to take charge and make a difference in my world.  For my Bronze Award project, I was actually researching for a school paper.  We were assigned a long-term community service project at my school, Towne Meadow Elementary, and our individual “Make A Difference” projects had to be helping end an aspect of poverty such as homelessness, unsanitary water, poor education, or in my case, hunger.   During some research, I stumbled upon a recent news report about hungry college students at IUPUI.  The campus has just opened a food pantry and they needed support.  After meeting up with my troop, we knew this was the perfect opportunity to punch a section of hunger hard in the gut.

bronze2My troop and one Girl Scout who planned to transfer to our troop the next year went through the steps of the project after we completed our journey.  We had built our team, and after exploring our community and choosing our topic, we needed to make a plan.  With some brainstorming, we decided to go door to door asking for nonperishable food donations and write a cookbook consisting of about 50 recipes under $2.50 per serving.  To put our plan in motion, we began delivering flyers asking for donations to each newspaper box in our neighborhoods and compiling cheap recipes that we received from our friends and family members after confirming the project with “Paw’s Pantry” at IUPUI.  The process of determining the price of a recipe’s serving required lots of math.  We made a list of all the ingredients and found their prices at our local Target and  added up the price of all the ingredients and divided the total by the number of servings the recipe makes.  When we finished our cookbook, “Eat for Cheap,” we had collected almost 400 donation items!  Spreading the word was easy with the help of IUPUI’s tweet and Facebook post thanking us for our help.  Here is what the Facebook post said:

bronze1“Mackenzie and the rest of her Girl Scout troop saw our story on the news back in September and wanted to help!  Since then, they have collected a ton of food donations.  But they wanted to step further to make their impact last much longer.  Based on the Chinese proverb, “Give a man a fish, feed him for a day; teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime,” Mackenzie and her troop put together a cookbook of easy recipes that are all priced out to be $2.50 per serving or less!  These cookbooks will be available starting next week to anyone who comes to utilize the pantry.  Thanks for all of your hard work!”

This project changed me in so many ways.  I noticed that what I have taken for granted is considered a luxury among many others.  For instance, I am used to eating three full, healthy meals each day and hardly ever the same meal twice a week.  All of a sudden, I am looking at college students who have spent all their money on books, rent, and tuition and consider a good day’s meals to be a breakfast bar and pack of Ramen Noodles.  They often skip lunch and if that isn’t the case, it may be a double cheeseburger from McDonalds and we all know how healthy that is….

I also realized that no matter how big or small, old or young, anyone can take action and make a difference.  They just need the courage to go out there and change the world.  At a personal level, I know that I gained confidence when speaking professionally on the phone and writing professional letters and emails.  I learned to communicate formally and make appointments on my own.  It can easily be said that this project moved me mentally and emotionally.  It has been a truly unforgettable experience.  The Girl Scout Junior Bronze Award was a large amount of hard work but in the end, the feeling of satisfaction I experienced after delivering the donations and cookbook copies was too great for words to describe.

unnamedAbout the Author Mackenzie Misterka has been a Girl Scout since Daisies and is always eager to learn.  She currently attends Creekside Middle School.  Her favorite subjects are Language Arts and Orchestra.  Always ready to make a difference, she enjoys many forms of community service.  And yes, she plans to participate in the Girl Scout Silver Award with Paw’s Pantry next year.

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