Attitude of gratitude: Girl Scouts show appreciation for volunteers with Bronze Award project


Four Junior Girl Scouts in Fishers have completed their Bronze Award project by hosting a special dinner honoring volunteers who helped make their Scouting experiences memorable and fun.

Fifth-graders Lily Cloys, Murphy Benbow, Norah Marsh and Avery Antonacchio worked together on the Bronze Award project — a first step toward eventually earning a Gold Award, the highest honor in Girl Scouts.

The girls split up the responsibilities and Cloys was in charge of marketing, among other tasks. She said she also worked on getting a venue and planning food for the event.

“My biggest role out of all of it was (that) I was project leader with one of the other girls,” she said. That involved “constantly checking in with the other girls to get the tasks done.”

It was challenging to find a location for the dinner, because their budget didn’t allow much for renting a space. Lily Cloys’ mother, Jill Cloys, said they were fortunate to have the space at Counterpart on Visionary Way donated for the event.

Jill Cloys is the Fishers Service Unit Manager for Girls Scouts, and one of the many volunteers honored at the event. She said she advised the girls as they worked on their project but stressed that everything about the event had to be girl-led to qualify for a Bronze Award.

The girls’ project was approved for Bronze Award consideration by the Girl Scouts of Central Indiana, Jill Cloys said. And the girls had to each put at least 20 hours of work into it. A big chunk of those hours was taken up going to businesses and gathering donations.

“They did a great job of talking to all the businesses on their own,” Jill Cloys said. “We went with them but stood back and let them have the conversation. By the time they were done, they talked to over 100 local companies, and each of (the girls had) that opportunity to really build their confidence.”

They started out unsure of how to ask for donations, but later were able to approach business owners with confidence, she said.

“One of the key reasons that we love these projects and what we like seeing the girls do is watching that confidence build, and learning to have those conversations, and understanding they’re going to hear ‘no’ a lot,” Jill Cloys said. “And that doesn’t mean you’re not going to get a ‘yes’ at the next place.”

Lily Cloys said choosing food also took some time and coordination. She and Antonacchio decided on pizza, she said, and they calculated how much it would cost to feed everyone. Because of their limited budget, they were going to get a less-expensive option. But again, they were fortunate.

“One of the girls, her dad’s company ended up saying, ‘we’ll pay for your meal,’ so we (could) do better,” she said. “We ended up getting HotBox.”

Lily Cloys said that Charles Maddon, PC, bought eight pizzas, salads and breadsticks for the event.

The volunteer appreciation event’s theme was Red Carpet, Lily Cloys said. They had gold stars with volunteers’ names on them for a Walk of Fame, and games based on movies.

“As a group we played movie-related games such as guess the famous quote, movie trivia, and guess the movie scenes being acted out,” she detailed in a later email. “The volunteers enjoyed trying to be the first to guess and win one of the donated items.”

Cloys said she and the other girls had to finish a Bronze Award project while still in Junior Girls Scouts. She said she wants to later go for the Silver Award, and then the Gold Award.

“I plan on going all the way through and trying to get all of the awards,” she said.

Cloys said she enjoys Girls Scouts because it has helped her learn new skills and build her confidence.

“I’m very involved in things, but not always the most confident when I’m doing things. I like how (Girls Scouts) helped me with that skill,” she said. “And the friendships. I’ve made a lot of friendships in my Girl Scout troop.”

Cloys also has learned how to draft a news release for the media. She sent information about three of the volunteers honored at the event.

Her mom, Jill Cloys, is the Fishers Service Unit Manager, and was awarded the Girl Scout of USA Volunteer of Excellence as well as the Fishers Service Unit Starfish Award.

“This year she developed a Diversity and Inclusion Program for the Fishers Service Unit that has six parts called Igniting Change,” Lily Cloys said in the email. “The project established a reporting form and activity lessons on topics like acceptance, curiosity, advocacy, and perspectives.”

Misty Baker is a troop leader and Fishers Service Unit Co-Manager.

“(Baker) helped lead the Fishers Service Unit this past year and was a key volunteer in helping make sure some of my favorite events like the Junior Lock-in and Leader/Daughter Retreat happened,” Cloys wrote. “She gives so much time to her own troop and the entire Service Unit.”

Meredith McWilliams is a troop leader and Fishers Service Unit Treasurer. Lily Cloys said that McWilliams led her daughter’s troop from kindergarten through 12th grade, and then took on a whole new troop of kindergarten-age Scouts.

“This year, (McWilliams) was awarded the Girl Scout of USA Lead the Way Award for her dedication,” Cloys wrote.

McWilliams said that before her daughter joined Girls Scouts, she had no experience with the organization other than buying cookies. But her daughter’s troop needed a leader, so she stepped up and discovered that she loved it.

She said the organization teaches girls about much more than camping and selling cookies.

“When my daughter’s troop was in junior high, we were discussing what they had learned from Girl Scouts,” she said. “Several of the girls mentioned canoeing, camping, archery — all things I expected. One girl, though, said she had learned how to be comfortable with public speaking. That made me realize it’s not just overt skills the girls are gaining through the Girl Scout program, but they are learning a lot of character skills that will help them throughout their life.”

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Fisher Service Unit Junior Girl Scouts sit in a circle and act out a scene as part of a “Name the Movie” game played during a recent volunteer-appreciation dinner. (Photo courtesy of Lily Cloys)

Look who donated

The four Girls Scouts vying for their bronze award visited numerous businesses seeking donations to help with the event, or to give as thank-you gifts to their volunteers. They ended up with 46 businesses providing items from flowers to cash to gift cards.

In alphabetical order, those businesses were: Agave, Charles Madden, PC, Chatham Tap, City Barbecue, City Bird, Cynthia’s Hallmark, Imagine Theater, Five Guys, Lou Vino, M&I Nails, Massage Heights, McAlister’s Deli, Nothing Bundt Cakes, Original Pancake House, Papa John’s, Pitaland, Royal Foot Spa, Shake Shack, Slapfish, Soho Threading & Wax, Star Dry Cleaning, Steak & Shake, Subway, The Nail Studio, Verde, and White’s Ace Hardware.