HARLINGEN — She says her mother is behind it all.
“Having her in my heart definitely kept me going,” said Alyssa Dale, 19, who received her Gold Award for her Girl Scout project Tuesday at the Children’s Bereavement Center.
Family and friends gathered at the center at 2302 South 77 Sunshine Strip for the unveiling and reception to celebrate Alyssa’s latest step in her journey toward success while embracing her humanity. The project on which she worked for 2 1/2 years is a reading area at the center.
Alyssa is the daughter of the late Evelon Dale, who died unexpectedly four years ago. Dale’s sister, Laura Wilson, took her in.
“I’m really happy with how it came out,” Alyssa said, looking over a large handmade wooden shelf filled with books with titles like “Boys of Blur,” “The Princess and the Page” and “First Book of Australia.”
Accomplishing the project was no easy task. She had to log in more than 80 hours showing every bit of work she put into making it happen.
“The first step is you have to send in a proposal about what you want your idea to be,” she said. “And you have to get it approved. Once it gets approved you have to then start on the project, and then once you get your project done, it has to then kind of get approved again.”
A key element was ensuring the project would be sustainable. In other words, would it continue to serve the community long after Alyssa’s finished?
The answer is an obvious yes.
Her aunt, Wilson, apologized for the short notice for the reception.
“This was a last minute put together session because Alyssa did not find out about the actual awarding of it until Saturday around 1 o’clock,” she said. “She was at work when she got the text. I don’t know how the child worked the rest of the day. She was on cloud nine.”
Wilson welcomed everyone in attendance — it was a good turnout in spite of the short notice — and then spoke about Alyssa’s journey through life.
“Almost 99.9 percent of everyone in this room knows Alyssa’s story, and I think we can all agree Alyssa has quite a story,” Wilson said. “It began years ago when Alyssa was 3. Evelon was able to become her guardian and when Alyssa was 7 or 8 the final adoption went through.”
She talked about the great many years Evelon and Alyssa had together — and the continued blessings she’s brought to the rest of the family.
“This child has blessed Evelon and I with full time motherhood,” Wilson exclaimed.
Alyssa’s other aunt, Jodi Goodwin, has been her leader in Girl Scouts Troop 109 for 10 years.
“In order to do this award it takes years of planning, perseverance, overcoming obstacles, research, investigation, fundraising,” Goodwin said. “Everything that you can imagine comes together when you put together things in a real world adult project. That is what Alyssa had to go through in order to be able to get to the end of this project.”
She said the committee which has to approve the project checks every detail, ensuring every I is dotted and every T is crossed. It’s no small affair, and that highlight’s the magnitude of the achievement.
Alyssa’s mother Evelon was known around the community for her generosity, caring spirit and upbeat personality. The kind of character building she instilled in Alyssa has obviously impacted her.
While she worked steadfastly on her project, she was volunteering at Golden Palms, Loaves and Fishes, and St. Alban’s Episcopal Church. Today, she and her family are traveling to San Antonio where she plans to double major in English and psychology at Our Lady of the Lake University.
“I definitely enjoy helping the community,” Alyssa said. “I’ve wanted to be a teacher since I was a little kid but recently after I started experiencing loss in my life I realized how important counselors are, so my priorities kind of changed.”
She looks forward to first teaching English and then becoming a counselor herself.
Fun facts about the Girl Scout Gold Award
Gold Award Facts and Figures
• Gold Award Girl Scouts spend between one and two years on their projects.
• The average age of Gold Award Girl Scouts is 17.
• In nearly 100 years, one million girls have earned the Gold Award or its equivalent.
• Gold Award Girl Scouts who join the armed services enter at one rank higher than other recruits.
• University research indicates that adding Gold Award to a college application is a critical element in the admissions-decision process.
The Gold Award represents the highest achievement in Girl Scouting, recognizing girls who demonstrate extraordinary leadership through remarkable Take Action projects that have sustainable impact in their communities-and beyond.
WHAT: Second woman in a decade to earn the Gold Award in the Valley
EDUCATION: 2019 graduate of Early College High School
Beginning freshman year at Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio to study English and psychology.
FAMILY: Daughter of Evelon Dale, Niece of Laura Wilson and Jodi Goodwin