Valerie Zecca, 17, wants people to see disabled individuals as real people. In her work on her Girl Scout Gold award, she spent countless hours fundraising for a clothing closet for the Trinity Services Drop-in Center in New Lenox, but her real joy in the entire project was spending time with the adults who use the Trinity Center.
“That was my favorite part. After all that work, I got to do what I wanted to do...I really like the individuals at Trinity Services," the resident said. "They are genuine, really friendly people.
"I want [other] people to see them as really genuine, too.”
Zecca’s need to serve and her organization skills were tapped as she set about tackling the requirements for the Gold Award. Comparable to the Boy Scout Eagle Rank, the project has to involve significant amounts of planning and work hours to qualify. The guidelines say the project has to determine a need and work to create a solution, and the solution must be sustainable, beyond the scope of a single event. Zecca, who attends , also had to get approval from all levels; the Girl Scouts, as well as the recipient, in this case, Trinity Services, an agency which serves adults with developmental disabilities.
In cooperation with Jim Chuporak, Program Coordinator for the Drop-in Center, Valerie determined that some of the Trinity clients lack the resources to buy needed clothing items, so the clothing closet, she figured, could help these individuals.
“Clients without means can pick out clothing for themselves from the items in the closet,” said Zecca.
Chuporak added that clients who might not be working, or need a nicer outfit for a special occasion can get an outfit from the closet.
To make her project viable, Zecca started with a fundraiser.
Zecca organized a garage sale with the help from the Junior Girl Scouts in Debbie Kijowski’s troop. Between the sale and donations, Zucca raised $350.
With the money, she purchased shelving. Once the shelving was installed, Zecca and the Trinity clients were able to fold and stock the closet with donated clothing items.
Completing the requirements for the Gold Award took Zecca almost a year. Meanwhile, Zecca continued to keep up with her studies at Providence High School in New Lenox where she will be a senior in the fall. She has been in Girl Scouting for eleven years, and most recently as an independent scout, not connected to a specific troop. Her parents are Theresa and Joe.