Emmeline Knowlan, 17, of New Ringgold, is the daughter of Rob and Kelly Knowlan. She earned her Girl Scout Gold Award by digitizing 40 "Life Books," booklets that give children in foster care a sense of stability and permanence by recording such landmarks as where and when they were born, information about their birth families, if appropriate, how they came to be in foster care and other facts.
"I have two siblings who are adopted, so I worked with the foster care program that they came through, Diakon Ministries, in Topton," she says. "The Life Books help the children understand what their living situation was, and about their birth parents, and why they are in foster care. Some of them have hundreds of pages, and so they photocopy every single one, just in case a child loses it."
Diakon had a plethora of copies of the books in its offices, and they took up a lot of needed space.
"What I did was scan all of the pages into a computer, and put them on discs in order to save space in the office, then we recycled lots of paper," Emmeline says. "I did 40 of those, and each was about 100 pages. So 4,000 pages of paper were saved."
Emmeline didn't stop there. She even helped Diakon clean up its basement.
"They have lots of donations coming in, so I took some of the girls from my troop, and my brother, who is a Boy Scout, and we organized it and cleaned up the space," she says.
She also created a slogan and made a banner for Diakon to display at its adoption/foster care events. The banner is decorated with snowflakes with pictures of children. The slogan is "Let Your Heart Melt for One of Our Special Snowflakes."
Emmeline's work was invaluable, said Lea Moyer, formerly a permanency case manager at Diakon.
"As an agency, we had always made copies of those life books. We try to include pictures in the Life Books, but they were in black and white. We now have the ability to have color pictures that we can give to the children. That's huge, because for some of these kids, those Life Books are the only places those pictures exist. she really gave us a wonderful ability if these Life Books should get lost. And to me, that's invaluable," she says.
Emmeline also held a workshop for the girls in her Service Unit, showing them how to make their own Life Books and teaching them about adoption. She also did a "mini-workshop" for her 9-year-old brother's Scout troop.
All in all, Emmeline devoted 87 hours and six minutes to the project, done a year ago.
What did she learn?
"Persistence, and if you start something, you should definitely follow through and finish it," she says.
Emmeline says she also learned the value of teamwork, and how to communicate better with others.