After 13 years as a Girl Scout, Emily Radtke of Troop 20640 received the highest honor she possibly could: a Gold Award. The award was a culmination of more than 8 months of work to address Vallejo’s homeless problem.
Radtke, an 18-year-old recent Benicia High School graduate, joined the Girl Scouts at the age of 5 at the Daisy level. She continued with the organization until she recently graduated at the Ambassador level. As one of her final tasks, Radtke chose to work toward a Gold Award, which is no easy task. A scout has to put in a minimum of 80 hours completing an individual service project that addresses an issue in their community.
Radtke decided to help the homeless population in Vallejo and did so by partnering with the Global Center for Success on Mare Island, a nonprofit organization that aims to help the homeless and lower-income members of Vallejo’s population through such services as life skills counseling, financial and computer literacy classes, GED training, and health and wellness education. Radtke learned about the Global Center for Success after visiting Vallejo’s Christian Help Center, a partner of the center. She decided she would focus her project on helping out there.
“School has been such a major part of my life and I want others to have a safe and positive environment to learn, regardless of where they are in their life, just like I have,” she said.
Radtke focused on providing support for the programs available and received funds through donations and a garage sale. One of her goals was to clean out four old storage rooms in the center, where she received assistance through Benicia’s Venture Crew 78. Eventually, the old rooms gave way to two new classrooms, a mock interview room and an organized storage space to hold donated tables, chairs, whiteboards and office supplies.
Additionally, Radtke painted four murals on the walls throughout the center to create a more colorful, inspirational atmosphere. She estimates that the project, including the paperwork, took about eight months. A lot of the process included waiting for responses from people and trying to accommodate her school schedule.
“I ended up visiting the center about six times to work,” she said. “A lot of the project was organization of supplies, donations and volunteers.”
Ultimately, Radtke’s goal of expanding resources for the center paid off. She received a Gold Award for her dedication to the project and is thrilled with the result.
“It is really rewarding to earn a Gold Award,” she said. “It has taken a lot of work, but it is making a positive impact on the community. I now feel that my journey as a Girl Scout is complete and this project has prepared and inspired me to move on in the world and continue to help others.”
More than the award itself though, Radtke is most proud of the lasting impact of the project.
“I hope my project can help provide the resources that homeless people need to find work and good opportunities,” she said. “In the long run, those that have found success through the center will want to give back and help the center and its outreach grow. Personally, I hope this project will drive me to continue volunteering and do more to help others.”
Radtke will attend Colorado State University in Fort Collins in the fall, where she plans to major in chemical and biological engineering.