by Kevin Dicciani
Grace Fry, a 12-year-old Girl Scout from East Norriton, hosted the Summer Fiesta at St. Martin in the Fields Church on Aug. 13. The event, a supper with all contributions going to those in need, was the last project Grace needed to earn the Girl Scout Silver Award, which honors leaders who are dedicated to making a change in the community.
Grace, who attends Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church in Trooper, has been in the Girl Scouts since the second grade. After reaching the rank of Cadette in Troop 7197, she decided to complete a journey that would grant her the highest award a Girl Scout Cadette can receive.
Grace has been working towards the Silver Award for more than a year and a half. Some of the prerequisites for the award included identifying issues she cared about, exploring local communities and completing over a hundred hours in community service. Once they were finished, Grace had to design a project that she would host as a public event.
For her project, Grace chose to plant a garden in her backyard and use its contents – tomatoes, squash, zucchini, onions, peppers and various spices and herbs – to provide healthy food to those in the community who need it most. She pledged to market and host her event, setup the food stations, serve the meals and clean up afterwards. She will maintain the garden until the end of the summer and donate its remaining food to 300 Ministries, a shelter located on Spring Garden Street in Philadelphia.
“I thought that doing a garden and making food for the community was a good idea,” Grace said. “It’s important to help anyone who needs a good meal.”
To make her project possible, Grace reached out to Debra and Ike Roberts of St. Martin’s. For years the Roberts have been hosting suppers at the church that feed parishioners and guests across the community. The two of them worked with Grace to fulfill her goal by allowing her to use the church to host her event and earn her award.
Debra Roberts said that by hosting the event at the church, Grace would introduce her family members, her friends and the entire Girl Scout network to St. Martin’s, thereby redefining the term “neighbors” by bringing together communities across the region.
On Wednesday, Aug.13, Grace saw the Summer Fiesta come to life. With the help of her friends, some of them Girl Scouts themselves, Grace served food to more than 150 people. Grace served Mexican enchilada casserole, tomato salad and dessert, almost all of which was eaten.
Grace said what she enjoyed most was helping people with her friends while working towards her goal.
“It turned out just the way I thought it would,” Grace said of the supper’s success. “It was a lot of fun.”
“It was so much fun to watch Grace in action last night,” Roberts said. “When you consider all of the steps involved and the amount of time she has committed to this service project, it was great to see her enjoying herself, meeting the guests at supper and seeing and hearing how much everyone was enjoying all her efforts.”
After meeting those in attendance, Grace was met with a surprise: Terry Dean, head of membership for the Girl Scouts of Eastern Pennsylvania (GSEP). Dean showed up to take pictures and share a meal with Grace and her friends. She notified Grace that the GSEP would cover her event in their National Media Update.
In two weeks, Grace will deliver her vegetables to 300 Ministries. She will then gather photos and information about her event, log her hours, and fill out and submit paperwork to the GSEP panel. GSEP will host an award ceremony in the spring, followed by a ceremony from Grace’s Troop 7197, which will present her with her Silver Award pin.
Even after she earns her award, Grace said she will continue to help those in need. She said many of things she saw and learned at St. Martin’s will follow her into the future, especially the church’s open door policy.
”I really like the fact that the doors are always open for everyone,” Grace said. “That is the way it should be when you are helping people.”
* This is an updated version of an earlier post