By LeANN RUSSELL | Special to the Democrat
Judge Mark Riley was one of many elected officials who took time to pay recognition to two special young ladies on Feb 4.
They received certificates from Gov. Rick Perry, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, U.S. Rep. Kay Granger and State Sen. Craig Estes, among others.
A Texas flag was flown over the state capitol in their honor by State Rep. Phil King. A resolution will be read on the house floor proposed by Rep Bill Zedler. Letters of congratulations came from Sen. Brian Birdwell and others. Representatives from the Marine Corps League and The Military Order of World Wars presented the girls with a certificate and a challenge coin.
Why all the buzz?
Sarah Michelle Hardy, of Weatherford, and Sarah Elizabeth Russell, of Springtown, earned their Stars and Stripes Award. Stars and Stripes is the highest award you can earn in the American Heritage Girls program. It is equivalent to the Eagle Scout in Boy Scouts. The girls are members of AHG Troop 1136 in Weatherford.
To earn the award the girls must complete their Dolley Madison Award (equivalent to the Life Scout) and then earn 16 required badges, two service stars per year (each service star represents 20 hours of community service), be in a leadership position in their troop and design and implement a service project of at least 100 hours for their community.
Each of these girls went above and beyond with each of these requirements. Sarah Hardy earned 16 badges, five service stars and her project encompassed about 250 hours. Her project was called “Baby Boom.” They remodeled the nursery at a church, including painting, putting in a counter and a sink, repainting the parking lot – including the handicap spaces – and cleaning out a large flower garden.
Sarah Russell earned 29 badges, earned 26 service stars (that’s 520 community service hours, not including her service project) and her project was over 350 hours. She organized her community and troop and placed a goal of making 100 items for premature babies in the NICU at John Peter Smith Hospital for her project she named “Hemmed in Prayer.” Together they sewed, crocheted and knitted 201 items to donate to the babies and their families.
Both of these girls epitomize the motto of AHG, which is “Building Women of Integrity through service to God, Family, Community, and County.” This award represents proficiency in all areas of the AHG Program (Heritage, Family Living, Arts, Outdoor Skills, Personal Well-Being, and Science and Technology).
The Stars and Stripes Award is attained by very few. It represents years of hard work, perseverance and strength of character. This award testifies to an understanding of their community and their nation and a willingness to get involved.
Just a few of the community service things these girls were involved in were serving at Center of Hope, making blankets for the needy, working at the pregnancy help center, putting flags on veterans graves, making crochet/knitted hats for the soldiers, flag retirement ceremonies, can food drives, Samaritans Purse Christmas boxes, making bags full of items for the homeless, working at the Republican Convention, volunteering for Republican campaigns, greeting soldiers at the airport, picking up trash in local parks in Weatherford and Springtown and many other service-minded activities.
To honor these girls, their families, friends, troop members and some elected officials came together at a ceremony on Feb 4. When it came time to do the presentation of the actual award, the girls received a huge surprise – the founder of 17-year-old American Heritage Girls program, Patti Garibay, flew in from Cincinnati, Ohio, to present the awards in person.
The girls are just the sixth and seventh recipients of the award in Texas and the 72nd and 73rd in the nation to receive this prestigious award.
There was an audible gasp in the audience and on the stage when Garibay was announced, as it was a surprise for 90 percent of the room. Garibay came with a contingent of five other national and regional leaders to attend the program.