Service from the Heart

Spotlight on Gold Award Girl Scout and Beth Winters Memorial Scholarship Recipient

Out of tragedy comes hope. For G.I.R.L.s (Go-getters, Innovators, Risk-takers, Leaders)TM, turning tragic events into hope for the future is a way to heal and move forward. Meet Samantha Jansen, a Gold Award Girl Scout and 2017 Beth Winters Scholarship recipient from Service Unit 637 in Lenexa, KS. This amazing G.I.R.L. was able to provide healing to countless families who have suffered tragedy, like her family did, through the Girl Scout Gold Award and her own drive to give back.

In 2016, Samantha Jansen received her Girl Scout Gold Award for her project, “Building Hope, One Brick at a Time.” For her project, she created the Building Hope Brick Garden at the Ronald McDonald House Charities Kansas City to memorialize children who have passed away and celebrate children who have had successful recoveries. Aside from the beautiful flowers that brighten the garden, memorial bricks are available for families to have engraved with the names of lost children and those who are in recover. Today, families can purchase bricks according to their financial situation through a fund Samantha established, so the garden will keep growing with memorials and success stories.

This project was more than just a service project to Samantha and her family because they suffered the loss of a child, Samantha’s twin brother, Eric, who passed away when he was only five days old.  Samantha chose to create the garden in memory of Eric. Through giving back, she was able to find a way to make Eric’s memory a place of healing and hope rather than sadness.

 

Left: Samantha being pinned by her mother & troop leader, Elaine; Center: Jansen family planting a bulb in the Brick Garden; Right: Joyce Termini, Samantha, Chip Winters and Joy Wheeler, GSKSMO CEO

Another Girl Scout family did exactly the same thing more than 20 year ago when they suffered the loss of their beloved daughter, Beth Winters. The Winters’ family turned this tragedy into a movement for change by establishing the Beth Winters Scholarship, which Samantha Jansen was the 2017 recipient of. “This scholarship meant so much because my project dealt with the loss of a child and Joyce lost a child, so it was something we immediately bonded over in the interview. Even though I’d never met her, the interview with her felt so personal,” Samantha said.

Earning her Gold Award and being selected as a Beth Winters Scholarship recipient are the culmination of 12 years of Girl Scouting service. Samantha joined Girl Scouts as a Daisy in Kindergarten and stayed with the program because of the opportunities to give back and life skills she’s been able to learn.

“If I had gone out and tried to find all the opportunities Girl Scouts has provided me on my own, they would have been so much harder to find. The connections I’ve made through Girl Scouts have opened up a lot of doors for me and helped me with life skills,” Samantha said. By staying involved through her senior year of high school, Samantha has been able to go from a quiet middle schooler to a vibrant, young public speaker who’s able to serve as an event emcee! Talk about becoming a G.I.R.L.!

Girl Scouts has helped Samantha become a G.I.R.L. in a variety of ways, but especially as a “Risk-taker” and “Leader.” “Because of all the skills I’ve learned and by becoming a risk-taker [in Girl Scouts,] I’ve become a leader. By pushing myself, not being afraid to take charge of a group and by speaking up for myself, I’ve learned to lead. Being a risk-taker and a leader are so connected,” Samantha said.

We couldn’t be more proud of this amazing G.I.R.L. and her incredible family that’s stood by her side. Thank you to Samantha, her mother and leader, Elaine, and the rest of the Jansen family. Thank you for supporting your G.I.R.L. and for creating a better world

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