Vista, CA — On Monday, March 10th, Vista resident, Aleena Record, completed the requirements for her Girl Scout Gold Award. Ms. Record will be one of approximately 60 young women in the San Diego County area receiving the prestigious award this year. The recipient of her half year long project is Operation Hope-Vista (OHV). The shelter has been near and dear to her for longer than she can remember. On her 1st birthday, her parents began a tradition that continues to this day: The Record Family Book Drive. Over the years it was not uncommon to find books delivered to their front doorstep for distribution. As a family, they have delivered thousands of books to various non-profits in our area, one of them being OHV.
At that young age she had heard of the positive impact in having the Gold Award listed as one of her achievements on her college application. During the last 9 years, she has worked hard toward that goal by earning the highest level awards at each level of Girl Scout, those being the Bronze Award and Silver Award. The Girl Scout Gold Award- is the highest level award a Girl Scout can earn. It is awarded to Girl Scout Seniors or Ambassadors who complete a project that will make a lasting difference in the world. This project also needs to be sustainable beyond her involvement and address a global issue.
Her project for OHV entailed the comprising of a 36-page book to be given to every child that enters the shelter for the next two years. Along with the book, each child will have the opportunity to pick out a TY baby stuffed animal of their choice. She wanted the title of her book to follow the theme of the shelter in “Providing Shelter and HOPE” in the naming of it: “Hope in 90 days.” You see, the residents at the shelter are provided with 90 days of assistance. During which time they are loved and cared for in receiving and experiencing some normalcy: with food, clothing, and shelter. They are given the opportunity to become part of a community that provides peer support, learning, and training to make a successful transition beyond the shelter.
Ms. Record’s book was created to offer HOPE to children that maybe had no hope, maybe came to the shelter with nothing but the clothing on their backs, maybe were taken away in the night and had nothing to call their own. The stuffed animal is being given to them as a tangible item to cuddle and hold on to if needed during the sometimes tough counseling sessions or as something to cling to as they drift off to sleep at night.
She wants to empower the children with positive thoughts, quotes and thoughtful reflections. During her time spent at the shelter, children were asked to reflect and draw a picture of what they aspire to do when they grow up. These drawings are included within the pages along with puzzles, word searches, reflection pages, activities to do and games to play. She also met with a long time mentor and friend, C.A. who, as a child, experienced homelessness. C.A shares her story within the pages of this resource to encourage the children to let their experiences strengthen their character.
Ms. Record covered the cost of printing her books, several hundred in total and a cost of $868.00 with money that she earned selling GS cookies over the past few years. The formatting, editing, and printing was provided by Ricoh printing in Escondido with the help of family friend, A. Espino. The TY babies were donated to her by her now late grandma Madeleine. Each stuffed animal has a reflection from “Grandma Mady” attached.
The sustainable aspect of her project will be in the shelter’s ability to reprint the book as the supply is depleted. Ms. Record will be entering a copy of the book along with her story in the Del Mar Fair coming up this summer to expand the reach and bring awareness of the plight of homelessness. Many thanks go out to her GS mentor Tiffany in her many hours spent helping her along in this journey, Mrs. Lizeth her main mentor at OHV, and her family and friends for supporting her and assisting with different components of the project.
Ms. Record will be leaving home in the fall to attend college to earn her teaching credentials in elementary education.
If you would like to help further the funding for additional copies of this resource you may make a tax-deductible donation to: Operation HOPE-Vista 859 E. Vista Way, Vista CA 92084 or visit www.operarionhopeshelter.org please state that it is for the reprinting of “Hope in 90 days.”