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Raising A Voice - A Gold Girl Story

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Eva Counts of Maryville is one of 29 Gold Award 
recipients from the Girl Scouts of the Southern Appalachians. She shares what she learned through the Gold Award experience and what she’s up to now.

Since 1916, thousands of Girl Scouts across the country have earned the Girl Scouts’ highest honor, now called the Girl Scout Gold Award, for demonstrating extraordinary leadership and making sustainable change in their communities. Nationally, only 6 percent of all eligible Girl Scouts achieve the Gold Award.

“At church, I was expressing my frustration with other project ideas that had fallen through. One of the church members overheard the conversation and informed me that her daughter had just founded a new nonprofit in Knoxville, and they needed a lot of help getting their headquarters put together,” Eva said. “One of their biggest needs was a computer room renovation.”

Eva set out to install a community computer room for Raising a Voice, a nonprofit with the mission of ending human trafficking through gospel-centered community transformation and global outreach. Her project addressed internet and connectivity challenges faced by lower-income families. Community members now enjoy reliable and safe internet access to help with school, employment searches and other opportunities.

“My favorite part of this project was learning about general construction and home upkeep,” Eva said. “I got to spend a lot of time with a family friend, Jerry Cowan. I learned a lot from him – not only about renovations, but also some good life lessons and Jimmy Buffett trivia!”

“I encountered obstacles with timing and communication which helped me learn the major importance of staying organized, being thorough and communicating clearly and often. It all worked out in the end.”

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Before photos of the room that Eva would transform into a computer room.

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In-progress photo: new sheetrock was put up, mudded and taped, then sanded before painting. Eva had help hanging sheetrock from members of a local church. 

Eva noted that a special memory from her time in Girl Scout troop #21803 has impacted her trajectory to this day. “We took a Girl Scout trip to Savannah, Georgia. One day, we took a trip to Tybee Island and visited a marine center,” she said. “We learned about the marine life in the area, and we got to take a net out into the water while the tide came in and catch some of the organisms. This greatly piqued my interest in marine life and the ocean. Now, I am studying coastal engineering at Louisiana State University. You could say that trip left a pretty big impact!”

Eva describes herself as hardworking, determined and outgoing. She spends a lot of time at work, but enjoys the time spent with her coworkers. When not studying or working, she enjoys being outdoors, swimming, kayaking and hanging out with friends.

Congratulations to Eva and all of our Gold Award recipients!

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The finished room.