Friday, August 31, 2012

Kinnelon's Girl Scouts: Growing Tomorrow’s Leaders

Rebecca Sinski, Kinnelon Girl Scout & One
of Tomorrow's Leaders
Several years ago, I attended my first Eco-Trek at Lake Rickabear, a Girl Scout Camp located in Kinnelon. It had been almost 30 years since I was last a Girl Scout, and I was really glad to see that the organization was still going strong.

The following year I was invited to an orientation for team captains to kick off the next Eco-Trek. The speaker was Helen Wronski, the President and CEO of Girl Scouts of Northern New Jersey. She spoke about the importance of Girl Scouts in today’s world and how the organization has shifted its focus from the 3 “C”s – crafts, camping and cookies, to empowering young girls to become tomorrow’s leaders.

Yesterday, Helen’s words came back to me as I read a letter that was left in my mailbox by a young woman named Rebecca Sinski. She moved into my neighborhood with her family 2 years ago. In the letter, Rebecca asked for help from neighbors with one of her biggest goals- receiving the Girl Scout Gold Award.

Let me introduce to you my new neighbor Rebecca Sinski. I’ll let her fill in the details about her goals in life and her upcoming project.

Q : Rebecca, tell me a little bit about yourself.

A : Though I just moved to Stonybrook Highlands two years ago, I’ve lived in Kinnelon my entire life. This year I’ll be a senior at Kinnelon High School where I’m involved in Winter & Spring Track and Student Council. I’m hoping to have a memorable last year, make it through the college application process, and earn the Girl Scout Gold Award.

Q : What do you like about living in Kinnelon?

A : Kinnelon is beautiful, community-oriented and simply a great place to grow up.

Q : How long have you been a Girl Scout and what do you enjoy most about scouting?

A : I’ve been a Girl Scout since I was in second grade. When I was younger I loved it because I was always doing fun things with my friends but now I realize that being a Girl Scout has allowed me to do things that I otherwise wouldn’t have had the chance to. The best part, though, is being able to help others.

Q : What is the Girl Scout Gold Award?

A : It is an 80 hour community service project designed to encourage young women to take action and make a difference in their communities.

Q : What have you chosen as your project?

A : To establish and sustain a food pantry at the Tomorrows Children’s Institute (TCI) at Hackensack University Medical Center. At TCI, pediatric patients with cancer and serious blood disorders seek treatment in a warm and caring environment from dedicated professionals. But many families and patients struggle during their time at TCI as treatment puts an economic and emotional strain on them. I hope that a food pantry at TCI will alleviate some of their stress.

Q : Why did you choose this particular organization for your project? Does the Tomorrows Children’s Institute have special meaning to you?

A : My mom, Annette, has been working at the Tomorrows Children’s Institute as an Advanced Practice Nurse for 14 years. Because of her, I’ve always had a concern for cancer patients and their families. In 2010 I started volunteering at TCI during the summer and have continued to volunteer for the past three years. When it came time to decide on a project for my Gold Award, I immediately knew I wanted the patients of the Tomorrows Children’s Institute to benefit from it.

Q : I see that you are collecting a list of specific food items.
  • Protein food: canned or dried beans (kidney or garbanzo), lentils, peanut butter, nuts, tuna fish, canned fish, canned ham, canned turkey, canned chicken
  • Grains: whole grains or regular pasta, quinoa, couscous, brown or white rice, whole grain mac & cheese, canned pasta (beefaroni or spaghetti and meatballs), whole grain crackers, granola bars, cereals (cheerios, raisin bran, whole grain, or no sugar added)
  • Fruits & Veggies: canned fruits in natural juices, dried fruit, canned vegetables
  • Other: any canned soups, canola oil, olive oil, vinegar, boxed milk (unrefrigerated cow, soy or almond)
A : Yes

Q : I noticed that your food choices are more health conscious, for instance, whole grains and no added sugar. Was this deliberate on your part or is it typical of what food pantries collect? 
A : Though most food pantries aren’t so specific in their collection requests, both the dietician at TCI and I agreed that healthy foods would be best for the patients of TCI during their treatment. Many cancer patients struggle with eating during their treatment due to side effects of chemotherapy and radiation, so it's important that the foods they do eat are high in nutrients.

Q : Rebecca, I’ll be leaving my donation at the bottom of my driveway as you instructed in your letter. But how will you continue to stock the pantry once it is setup? Also, If others outside the neighborhood would like to contribute, how can they do so? 

A : I’m going to be doing several more collections through school, church, local businesses and the hospital in order to stock the pantry. Once it is set up, I plan on making arrangements for a different Girl Scout Troop or organization to stock the pantry each month for the next year. If anyone would like to contribute, I can be reached at and we can arrange a pick up or drop off date.

Q : What are your plans after you graduate High School?

A : I plan to attend college next year where I hope to study either communications, journalism or English.

It has been great chatting with you, Rebecca. Best wishes for a successful project and a bright future. 

~ Mary Beth Grybowski

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