By Liz Bleacher
Within Girl Scouts we do a lot of projects and activities that help our communities at a local, county, state, national and even worldwide level. Some of these projects are community service and others can be considered Take Action Projects, some even can be in both categories at once. The question is – how do you tell the difference between the two? How do you decide if what you are doing will help you earn your Community Service Bar or qualify as a project to complete your higher award, like the Bronze award?
I have some answers for you, in this post I will go through the check list of both so everyone, girls, volunteers, and adults, will have a better understanding of the two and be able to plan correctly. To start lets go over some vocab so that we all understand what is meant. First, a need, this is something that is a condition that needs supply or relief, it is a temporary fix. Second and often used interchangeably but not the same is, an issue, which is an important topic or problem that is addressed on a bigger scale. An issue requires a more long-term self-sustaining solution.
An example of this would be a food bank “needs” fresh fruit and veggies on the shelves for their community. And the deeper “issue” is that they don’t have a regular sources of donations or a place to store fresh produce. Now, how do “need” and “issue” fit in with community service and Take Action projects? Let’s find out!
Community Service Projects
When planning a community service project you are focusing on solving an immediate need, having a food drive or raising money to donate to the food bank so they can purchase some produce will help with that need. You can work to help fill the shelves, this solves the need and is a fantastic thing to do, but it doesn’t deal with the issue. Once they give that food away or it goes bad they will be right back where they started.
Community service projects make the world a better place right now. Girls can engage in short-term service, like collecting toys, or a long-term project like weekly volunteering at the food bank, the work helps with the immediate need in their community.
Take Action Project
A Take Action project is a project that solves an issue by discussing and discovering the cause and coming up with a plan to affect or eliminate the cause of the problem. For the food bank, the root issue was they don’t have a regular source of produce or a way to store them for a short period. You could start your Take Action project by asking, “Why can’t they find produce and what do they need to store it?” After research, a Take Action project would eliminate the issue by working with local groceries or farmers to collect their extra produce and may include working with local companies to get one or two industrial refrigerators donated to store the produce for the weekly/biweekly distribution. This would provide the food bank with a regular source of produce and a place to store it.
Take Actions projects go a step further than a community service project that stop when you stop. Take Action projects, do not stop, they are continual, sustainable. Both community service projects and Take Action projects are great opportunities to strengthen your communities and make the world a better place, just in different ways. Everyone from Daisies to troop leaders, to life-long members can choose to serve in the way that is best for them. Now that you know the difference you can work with your fellow Girl Scouts to make the best choice for your troop. Like Juliette Gordon Low said, “The work of today is the history of tomorrow, and we are its makers.”
You can take a look at the different ways Girl Scouts can give back with badges and Journeys. As well as the awards Girl Scouts can earn that help build their skills to eventually earn their Highest Awards.