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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — Achieving the rank of Eagle Scout is commonly regarded as one of the highest achievements a Boy Scout can earn. The Gold Award, though equally impressive, is less known.
The Gold Award is the Girl Scouts equivalent of the Eagle Scout award — one of the most rewarding achievements a Girl Scout can earn.
Just like Eagle Scouts, Girl Scouts must perform a culminating project to receive their Gold Awards. The projects must benefit the community of the Girl Scouts doing the project.
That's what motivated Jordyn Therriault, Jamie Logan and Ciara Newman to begin looking for the right candidate, a Fairbanks organization worthy of their efforts.
They found it in the form of the Breast Cancer Detection Center. The center provides breast cancer screenings — regardless of ability to pay — to women in Fairbanks and throughout the Interior.
Each year it serves between 2,500 and 3,000 women between its Fairbanks center and its mobile unit that serves the more remote villages.
The detection center occupies a small wood-shingled building on Cowles Street, across from Fairbanks Memorial Hospital. Therriault, Logan and Newman decided to provide the center something it hadn't had in five years — an oil and stain covering of its entire exterior.
Executive Director Odette Butler said the center has fallen on hard times in the last several years, making it hard to afford a new coat for the building. Last time it cost the center $10,000. That's $10,000 she can use for something else this time around, she said.
Breast cancer has been a presence in the families of at least two of the girls, Newman said.
"It's very important and relevant in our lives and we thought it was a great cause. And because Fairbanks is such a hard place to live in, the building goes through some pretty rough weather," Newman said. "It's very important to us to keep (the building) healthy."
Despite the labor intensity their project already required, the three girls decided to add an additional element to their project — an instructional video for anyone in the future looking to take on a similar community service project.
The protective coating they placed eventually will fade, but their hope is the video will remain a tangible benefit to the community for years to come.
The girls got some help in the form of donations from local businesses and organizations, but the greatest help came in the contribution of labor and supervising from John Dempsey.
Dempsey, who works as a construction contractor, donated his time leading up to and throughout the entire staining process.
"He's kind of been our rock through this whole process," Newman said. "We're going to be forever indebted to him for helping us out here."
The girls, their family members, Dempsey and several people from the Breast Cancer Detection Center worked Labor Day weekend to finish the staining.
While Butler was grateful for all the work the girls put toward the project, she said she was glad just to see their involvement with breast cancer awareness.
"Just the fact that there are young people volunteering to do something with a nonprofit, that alone is tremendous," Butler said, "because when you go to our functions and fundraisers, you hardly see young faces there. There's just so many good reasons why this is an excellent project."
Information from: Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner, http://www.newsminer.com