JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – When the diminutive 14-year-old Girl Scout Sabrina Yvellez announced last year her intention to raise $13,000 singlehandedly to pay for the Women in Service Plaza as part of the $300,000 Veterans War Memorial in Newtown Park, many thought it was a laudable plan but perhaps a little beyond her reach.
O ye of little faith.
Sabrina was saluted at the July 14 Johns Creek City Council meeting with a proclamation from Mayor Mike Bodker and City Council for not only achieving that $13,000 goal of paying for the Women in Service Plaza, but for her inspiring attitude and determination.
The Veterans War Memorial is the project of the Johns Creek Veterans Association that began a little over a year ago. JCVA President Wayne Kidd said when Sabrina finished her campaign, it was the largest donation received up to that time.
“She joined us when she was 12, and now a year-and-a-half later, she has been simply fantastic,” Kidd said. “When we had an event about the memorial, she was there talking with people about the memorial and collecting major contributions such as the one she got from Jackson Healthcare.”
That was a $2,000 donation right there. Sabrina’s private campaign has brought the Veterans Memorial project a lot of publicity also, which Kidd said has been almost as valuable as her donation.
“That has been our biggest stumbling block, just getting the word out,” Kidd said. “She has been a wonderful asset for us in a lot of ways.”
Sabrina is not only a hard-working fundraiser, but she has also been an ambassador for the project to convert 4 acres donated by the city at Newtown Park for a memorial that will recognize the country’s veterans and acknowledge them with 10 plazas marking the wars the United States has participated in since 1900 while also singling out special recognition such as the Women in Service Plaza.
Sabrina acknowledged taking on the project – to earn her Girl Scout Silver Award – was a little scary.
“I was shy at first to speak to people about the memorial and ask for donations. That was the hardest part,” Sabrina said.
She is articulate today. She said she was first attracted to the project because she had several family members who were in the armed services, including her father who was a Marine.
“I wanted to honor my family and thought this would be a good way,” Sabrina said.
Asked why she selected the Women in Service Plaza to stake out as her own project, she was quite forthright.
“I wanted to do it for women because I feel they exemplified the Girl Scout motto of courage, confidence and character,” she said.
In presenting the proclamation to Sabrina, Bodker congratulated her for her hard work and perseverance.
“She has raised most of the money herself. An anonymous donor helped put her over the top. It has been instructive to watch the hard work you put in that helped you achieve your goals,” Bodker said.
Sabrina said she has learned a lot through this experience.
“It is doesn’t matter how old or how young you are. You can make a difference,” she said.