During these turbulent times and with the holidays upon us, it is always refreshing to remember and recognize those younger members of our society that really do care about giving back to their communities, and have the determination and will to make a difference for others.
Two such young ladies are juniors at Westhampton Beach High School, Natalie Gosnell and Cayla Kuey, who have given back by creating, developing and launching a community resource center at Westhampton Beach Elementary
"We thought this would be a nice opportunity to make our mark on the elementary school," said Kuey, who started the project as part of her requirements to earn her Girl Scout Gold Award.
As part of the project, Gosnell and Kuey renovated an existing resource room at the elementary school, added new shelves and storage, painted a mural and are working to stock it with school supplies, clothing and food for local families in need.
Kuey reveals she enlisted the assistance of Gosnell to paint the mural since Gosnell has a "strong background in art." The mural features images from the Dr. Seuss' "The Lorax."
Gosnell was happy to let Kuey answer a few questions we posed to these industrious and successful students:
Tell us about your program and what inspired the idea?
The painting of the mural was part of my Girl Scout Gold Award Project which must be everlasting in the community and consist of at least 80 hours of service. When I was trying to decide what to do for my project I went to my elementary school and talked to Mrs. Slover, who talked to me about the Resource Room. She mentioned it was a project that would be extremely beneficial to local families and I knew that it was something I was willing to take on. To complete this project I emptied out the room which was previously used for a mix of storage and canned goods, then I built new shelves for the room and began filling the room with food, clothes, and school supplies that I collected. There are also two windows looking into this room, and I asked my friend Natalie if she would be willing to help me paint them because she is very artistic. When we got to the school Mrs. Slover said we could paint the wall as well and Natalie came up with the great idea of the Lorax. After about 20 hours of working after school and on weekends we completed the mural. Natalie chose the Lorax because she felt a Dr. Seuss inspired mural would be perfect for the elementary school.
Is the program in effect and what response have you received from students, parents and the community at large?
The program is in effect and each time I went to do further work there I've heard many great responses about my project.
As high school students why this program for elementary age students?
As a high school student I thought it would be beneficial to work in the elementary school because we can show younger kids that you don't have to be an adult to make changes in the community, and I also find it important for them to know that even families in our community are in need.
Do either of you have siblings at WHB Elementary School?
Neither Natalie nor I have younger siblings in the WHB Elementary School.
Is the program funded by the school district in any way?
This program was not funded by the school district, although we were able to use their art supplies when working. Because this was my Girl Scout project I had to raise all funds and donations myself.
What are your plans for the future after high school?
After high school I plan on working in education or psychology and Natalie plans on going into pre-med to become a pediatrician.
to young gals who have managed to show all of us the spirit of community.
Eileen Casey spent many years working in the television and music industries in New York City on the "ABC In Concert" weekly series, as well as several prime time network and cable television specials. An award-winning journalist, editor, and artist, and former Editor-in-Chief of Hamptons.com, she enjoys staying warm in Charleston and cool in the Hamptons.