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Woodbury residents Laura Ruiz-Colon, Sonia Sabadeand Meghan Jacobson (from left to right) earned their Gold Award from Girl Scouts. The project the three worked on together involved interviewing veterans and then recording their stories. Submitted photo.

History shines through for Girl Scouts

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History shines through for Girl Scouts
Woodbury Minnesota 8420 City Centre Drive 55125

Back in 2011, Meghan Jacobson Laura Ruiz-Colon and Sonia Sabade, all of Woodbury, were struggling to come up with a topic for their Girl Scouts Gold Award project.


"It was something we thought about constantly," Ruiz-Colon said.

The three then-high school seniors ultimately decided on a project that their Girl Scout troop leader had suggested - interviewing war veterans and recording their stories.

"We were all interested in history," Ruiz-Colon said. "Our generation forgets about the true heroes, so we wanted to take this opportunity to show our gratitude."

Jacobson, Ruiz-Colon and Sabad received their Gold Award earlier this summer during a ceremony.

"It's nice to know that we stuck with something that not a lot of people stuck with," Ruiz-Colon said.

In order to earn the award, a Girl Scout must must identify and complete a service project in the community that is unique, sustainable and addresses a community need beyond girl scouting.

The project requires creativity, development of leadership skills, as well as at least 80 hours of work.

"It's very satisfying," Jacobson said.

Ruiz-Colon, a sophomore at the University of Pennyslvania, joined Girl Scouts in kindergarten whereas Jacobson and Sabade, both sophomores at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, joined in eighth grade.

"It was a way to make friends when I moved here," Ruiz-Colon said. "It's a good place to find people with common values."

"It keeps us in touch with the community," Sabade said.

Recording history

For the project, the three women interviewed 12 veterans throughout the community.

"At first, I had no idea how to even approach the project," Sabade said. "But, I was surprised that so many of them were willing to tell so much of their story."

The veterans interviewed served in the Vietnam War, the Korean War and World War II.

"I didn't realize they had so much to tell," Sabade said. "It was almost like unreal to me.

"I couldn't really grasp that the person sitting in front of me had done all this stuff we learned about in our history books, but at the same time there was so much more to the story."

Ruiz-Colon said hearing the veterans' stories definitely proved to be emotional.

"We cried in the interview, they cried in the interview," she said.

Once the interviews were complete, the three women compiled the stories into a book, which was then added to the R.H. Stafford Library, the Minnesota History Museum and given to each veteran.

A total of 20 books were produced.

"The project gave me a whole new respect for elderly people," Sabade said. "It helped me realize their value."

Jacobson, Ruiz-Colon and Sabade culminated their project by hosting a celebration event at the R.H. Stafford Library the veterans where they received the books.

'Growing with Girl Scouts'

"Don't rush the topic process," Ruiz-Colon said. "Wait until you find something you truly love."

Jacobson, Ruiz-Colon and Sabade said they all enjoyed their time in Girl Scouts and have taken a lot away from their experiences.

"I've been growing with Girl Scouts." Ruiz-Colon said. "Girl Scouts is about being a strong woman and being proud of yourself and what you can accomplish. You can do anything you set your mind to."

Amber Kispert-Smith
Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.
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