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2/27/2013
Lifelong skill-sharing yields Gold for Scout
From left, Alexis Rud, Mary Baker and Kinsey Hallstrom cut out fabric for stuffed animals at the sew-in Baker organized for her Gold Award project. Photo by Eleanor Oman


By DANELLE LANDIS

Daily News Staff Writer

Ketchikan High School 2012 graduate Mary Baker has earned the Girl Scout Gold Award, which is the pinnacle achievement in Girl Scouting.

According to information at www.girlscouts.org, the award challenges high-school-age girls to "change the world," or at least that Scout’s corner of the world.

Baker, who now is enrolled in the Certified Nursing Assistant program through the University of Alaska Southeast Ketchikan campus, earned her Gold Award in August through teaching local girls to sew.

She said she wanted to work on a project with lasting benefits, and sewing "would be a lifelong skill."

Because sewing is not taught in schools anymore, Baker said she thought it would be a very useful project.

Baker organized a "sew-in" in May for the final portion of her project and invited girls from the community to join the day-long workshop, held in Holy Name Catholic Church’s Brindle Hall.

Sew-in attendees stitched nine patches for quilts, Baker said, but also could choose to make a purse or to create hand-sewn felt stuffed animals.

Gail Alguire, a lifelong Girl Scouts participant and leader, as well as a member of the Rainy Day Quilters Guild, was one of the several mentors and teachers at the sew-in. Quilters Guild member Mary Larsen was Baker’s project adviser.

Alguire said the work that Baker did to put the sew-in together and to get around obstacles and challenges was impressive.

"The fact that she actually achieved the award is incredible in itself," she said. "I thought it was a neat thing the girls did, and were able to organize it and plan it and carry it off."

Baker said her good friend and fellow Girl Scout, Sharaya Taylor, a Kayhi sophomore, plans to use the patches girls made at the sew-in for her Gold Award project in which she hopes to donate items to help sick children locally.

When Baker and Taylor took a class in the winter 2011-2012 from Alguire they donated their resulting quilts to the Seattle Children’s Hospital.

Taylor had spent quite a bit of time at Children’s Hospital when she was younger, Baker said, and that gave them the idea to work on a project to help that organization.

Baker said it was Alguire who piqued her interest in quilting by inviting her several years ago to a Girl Scouts sewing class in which she was teaching girls how to sew quilted bags.

"Ever since, I’ve been wanting to quilt," Baker said.

Alguire said one of the challenges Baker faced in finishing her award was to convince the Girl Scouts administrators that her sew-in project was "sustainable" — a requirement Gold Award projects are required to meet.

Baker said she convinced them by explaining her project was sustainable because her teaching could "carry into the future" the sewing skills and the interest in volunteering for charity projects.

According to Girl Scout information, a Gold Award project should encompass organizational and networking skills, and fulfill a community need.

Girl Scouts has been enjoyable for Baker mostly because the people "are so nice," Baker said. "It’s just a good environment to be in."

The Girls Scouts of Alaska Council has invited Baker to attend the annual Young Women of Distinction luncheon on March 27 to receive her Gold Award.