Johns Creek Girl Scout takes on $13K veterans memorial project



When I first heard that a 12-year-old Girl Scout in Johns Creek wanted to raise money for the Johns Creek Veterans Memorial Walk, I thought that’s very nice.

Then they told me little Sabrina Yvellez wants to raise $13,000 for the entire Women in Service Memorial, one of 10 monuments planned for the 4-acre memorial in Johns Creek’s Newtown Park.

Well, I had to meet a young person with that much moxie, so I set it up.

Once you meet Sabrina, a seventh-grader at Taylor Road Middle School, you see that she is a dynamo in pixie form. She doesn’t like to talk much, so of course she has chosen a project for her Silver Award (the highest achievement she can attain as a Girl Scout Cadette) that will require her to speak a lot.

But more on that later.

The first thing she did was give me her card with name, phone, email and website: If she wanted to make a good first impression, she was successful.

She told me she had been looking for a Silver project that would really energize her.

When she heard about the planned war memorial, she was first struck by this idea because so many of her family have been in uniform – a grandfather in World War II, uncles and her dad, Rudy Yvellez, who was a Marine. It would be a way of honoring those family members who served.

She began to think how she could honor them and the women who served also. There is a Women in Service Monument planned, so she began to think around that. What could she do that would be the contribution of this service project?

Finally, she settled on raising the funds for the entire monument. Why think small? So she contacted the Johns Creek Veterans Association to see if the members would allow her to do that.

“Wayne [Kidd], one of the Johns Creek veterans, took me around the part of the park where it will be,” she said. “When I saw where the Women in Service Monument was to be, that’s when I decided to do it.”

As I looked at her, I thought this little kid is going to do all that? So I asked her why?

“I want to do something that would exemplify their [the women veterans’] courage, confidence and character,” she said.

And you really think you can raise all this money?

“I know I can,” she shot right back. “I know it seems like a big project for a 12-year-old, but I know I can do it.”

I began to see how she could walk into 20 of the top companies in Johns Creek and ask for $1,000 from each of them and come up with the money easily. She is sharp, articulate and has a face that you can’t say no to.

But this project is for her Girl Scout Silver Award. And it turns out the Girl Scouts are much more concerned about what Sabrina is going to get out of this than what the JC Veterans Association is going to get.

There are some parameters she must meet in how she does this project. First off the bat, she cannot accept any donation larger than $250. As Sabrina began to explain it to me, I could see the reasoning the Girl Scouts of America has behind all of this.

As Sabrina told me, she has to submit a plan of action to the GSA for its approval. The idea is for her to spread the word of what she wants to do, organize her supporters within that plan and speak to groups who then can also raise money for the project.

She already asked the Taylor Road Junior Beta Club to set a $200 goal for the monument. Then she must organize at least two fundraisers a month on her own.

As she outlined all of what I saw as restrictions on her fundraising efforts, it clicked. The idea is for Sabrina to develop leadership skills, organizational skills, communication skills and the determination to see to all of the details a project like this is going to need.

She will also be called on to give talks about the project. She says she doesn’t mind that.

“They think I’m quiet in school, but I like to talk,” she said.

I think she is quiet by nature, but she is learning how to speak up when she thinks it is important. So you will likely see her set up at a table at many of the public events that will be happening in North Fulton this spring and summer.

She has about 14 months to achieve her goal.

“The hardest part is the project has to be sustainable, that it serves the community in some way. So this memorial will be here a long time, serving the community. I want to be part of that,” Sabrina said.

She said she has already learned a lot in how much work is involved in this project and how much time it takes away from other things. Sometimes it is hard to get into the rhythm of talking about the project.

But she keeps plugging away, confident that she will succeed.

I believe she will.

This article was published in the Johns Creek Herald May 2, 2013 edition

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