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Girl Scouts Jazz up Winter Shelter

Posted: February 27, 2008 1:45 a.m.
Updated: April 29, 2008 5:02 a.m.
Members of Girl Scout Troop 540 spent the weekend painting the Santa Clarita Emergency Winter shelter. Members of Girl Scout Troop 540 spent the weekend painting the Santa Clarita Emergency Winter shelter.
Members of Girl Scout Troop 540 spent the weekend painting the Santa Clarita Emergency Winter shelter.
While it was a weekend full of bikers whizzing through Santa Clarita and professional soccer players trying to "Bend it Like Beckham" at College of the Canyons, four teenagers were content to stay indoors and paint some walls.

Thanks to four Cadettes of the local Girl Scout Troop 540, the Santa Clarita Valley Emergency Winter Shelter was a welcome recipient of an interior facelift. The four girls - Tiffany Geer, 13; Ashley Kopanski, 14; Savannah Brubaker, 14; and Emily Espisito, 14 - took one step closer toward completing their Silver Award Projects when they spent the entire weekend painting the walls of the shelter.

"We had so much fun," said Geer, who coordinated the paint job with her mother, Tammy. "It was such a great experience."

Collectively, the girls combined for about 40 hours each on Saturday and Sunday painting each interior wall of the shelter. They started by separating into groups of four, with each girl acting as a project manager. They were allowed tochoose the design of the room they were assigned to, and recruit friends and family to assist in the paint job.

Once the crew was chosen and the idea was visualized, everyone trekked to local home improvement stores such as Home Depot and Lowe's to purchase the material. At the store, the girls and their fellow crew members mixed various colors and chose various designs to match their visions of how they wanted the room to look. Once all of the material was gathered, everyone got to work at the shelter.

According to Tiffany's mother, Tammy, the girls spent approximately $1,000 in paint and supplies.

"It's awesome to see them do this and work as a team," she said. "They were their own project managers and completed this project on their own.

After pushing themselves for two days to paint every inch of wall inside the shelter, the girls completed their project before the end of the day on Sunday, with a feeling of exhaustion and a smile on their faces. For good measure, each room had its own distinct character and look, matching the personality of the team that painted the room.

One room had a modern design, while another room was multi-toned with a different yet matching color on each wall.

Yet another room was a little more artsy, resembling an award-winning art exhibit at a neo-modern museum.

In painting the walls, the girls not only had some fun while performing a community service, but they also came closer to earning their Silver Awards.

"We truly appreciate the community's involvement in the shelter," said Tim Davis, president of the Santa Clarita Community Development Corp. "This project was a fine one. The dining room and dorms are much brighter, more inviting and more welcoming. With the knowledge that caring young ladies from our town did the planning and the work gives the shelter even more of a 'home' feeling."

As Girl Scouts, there are three levels of achievement for young girls to earn through community service and goodwill, which correlate to their personal development and age group - Bronze, Silver and Gold Award Projects. The Bronze Award Project is for Girl Scouts who are Brownies, and must complete their community service before the end of sixth grade. The Silver Award Project, which the shelter painting project was a part of, must be completed before a girl finishes the ninth grade and is generally a two-year project focused on merit and giving back to the community. The Gold Award Project must be completed before the girl graduates high school.

In addition to earning merit and community service awards, the girls also work hard to raise money to fund an annual trip to a location of their choice. This year, the girls are not only looking to complete their Silver Award projects, they are also raising money to go to one of three locations at the end of the school year.

When the shelter's director, Tim Davis, put out an all-points bulletin seeking a community service group to partake in a painting project at the homeless facility, girls from Troop 540 immediately took advantage of the opportunity to give back to their community.

"When the girls found out this project was available, they jumped on it," Tiffany said. "They took initiative, created their own ideas, brought in their friends and did this all on their own."

According to Davis, Boy Scouts will soon visit the shelter to paint the exterior walls and prepare the buildings for the summer's closed season.


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