Marshall Girl Scout earns 'gold' through community service

Friday, September 7, 2007
From left, Girl Scout Troop 616 leader Mary Jo Rieth, Sharon Day, Gold Award recipient Kim Day, Tony Day and Lighthouse Children's Program Coordinator Faith Manley. (Rachel Harper/Democrat-News)

Kim Day, daughter of Tony and Sharon Day, accomplished the highest honor a Girl Scout can achieve, the Gold Award, by helping her community. For her project, she helped the Lighthouse Shelter by renovating a room, turning it into a bright and fun library for children to use.

Only about 3,000 girls in the United States achieve this award a year.

"Rumor has it, it has been 30 years since anybody in Marshall has gotten a Gold Award," said Tony Day.

The leadership skills, organizational skill and sense of community and commitment that come from "going for the Gold" set the foundation for a lifetime of active citizenship, according to the Girl Scouts Web site.

Kim Day has been in Girl Scouts since first grade as a Brownie. She has had the same troop leader, Mary Jo Rieth, for the entire time she spent in the organization.

"She was a big force in all of this," Day said.

The award represents a girl's commitment to herself and to her community, as she focuses on leadership, career exploration, personal challenges and completing a lasting project that will benefit her community.

When Day started out in the troop there were 23 girls. Six of the girls made it to the end with three getting close to achieving the Gold Award. However, Day was the only one to complete it.

There were challenges along the way. If the troop made it through a camp out without a tornado, flash flood or severe thunderstorm warning it was a miracle, she said.

"It was always, always an adventure," Day said. "You never knew what was going to happen."

Day said the hardest part about being in the Girl Scouts, besides the exciting camping trips with Rieth, is being in high school.

"You receive a lot of peer pressure when you get into high school. We dropped 10 members in our troop because of it."

There are seven steps to achieving the special award, including putting in 30 hours in a leadership role and 40 hours spent in career exploration work.

The award path culminates with the Gold Award project.

The curtains hanging in the window are one of the new elements added to the library at the Lighthouse Shelter Children's Center as part of Day's Gold Award project. (Rachel Harper/Democrat-News)

"You spend 50 hours on the project," Kim Day said. "You are given a limited amount of money, $75."

Day went out and got donations. Wal-Mart donated the fabric for the curtains, which Day sewed herself. Sherwin-Williams donated paint for the walls. Several places donated books and posters.

Prior to Day starting the project, the room was "dark and dingy." The paneling was a dark brown and the walls were a dirty white. The ceiling was practically yellow from smokers that previously lived in the house that is now the children's center.

Day said Faith Manley, children's program coordinator for Lighthouse, told her, "I don't care (what it looks like) as long as it is bright."

Day said the children's library was for children six months to 18 years old. She wanted to stay with neutral colors because "I didn't want it to be too much girl or too much boy."

The walls are a bright yellow with green and blue trim areas throughout the room.

The final step of the project is to reflect on the experience by evaluating and celebrating the accomplishment.

"I love it," Manley said. "I think she did a fantastic job. When Kim did the library, it made all the difference. The kids want to go in there now for story time."

"Oh my gosh, I love it," said Debbie Wallace, executive director of the Lighthouse, to Day. "It is beautiful. Thank you very much."

Day said she has always wanted to work with kids. She is currently attending State Fair Community College in Sedalia to achieve an associates degree in elementary education.

Both Day and her parents were amazed at all the letters she got from all of the United States after achieving the award.

"I was really shocked," Day said. "I just did this for Marshall."

"Congratulations on earning the Girl Scout Gold Award. Your accomplishment pays tribute to your devotion to duty and hard work," a letter from President George W. and First Lady Laura Bush said. "Dedicated individuals who set high goals and strive for excellence reflect the best spirit of America. We commend you for working to improve yourself and your community."

Day received a resolution from the House of Representatives signed by Rep. Joe Aull.

"The hard work and effort you exerted to achieve your award is certainly deserving of recognition," said a letter from the Department of The Army. "You have set a standard of excellence for other youth in your community. Congratulations on your achievement and keep up the good work."

Day also received congratulatory letters from Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne, Congressman Ike Skelton, state Auditor Susan Montee, Governor Matt Blunt, Mayor Connie Latimer, Senator Bill Stouffer and many others.

Contact Rachel Harper at

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