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Masking Up - A Gold Girl Story

Riane Olsen Gold Final 2

Riane Olsen of Johnson City 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.

Originally, Riane’s Gold Award project involved gathering and delivering school supplies for a new school in Guatemala, but it couldn’t proceed due to pandemic-related restrictions.

While Riane’s project may not have been her original choice, being flexible and aware of emerging needs proved successful. “I chose to create and distribute masks in my community because I was no longer able to carry out my first Gold Award project idea during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Riane said. “I saw the need for education and access to face masks, and I was able to learn so much and help others through this project.”

Riane coordinated with local sewing enthusiasts to produce 500 face masks which were distributed to community members and local medical offices and pharmacies. Each mask came with two informational cards – one about how to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and another that directed recipients to her website to participate in a survey.

“My favorite part of working on the project was learning how to sew and getting to work with so many incredible ladies on my team,” Riane said. “I learned that I have the capacity to learn new skills, be an effective leader and confidently talk to people I don’t know.”

Riane Olsen Gold Final 1

The project was not without obstacles, however. Beyond having to change her original plan, she also had to find a solution when the borrowed sewing machine she was using broke. “After several days of trying to resolve the issue myself, I took it to a local repair shop,” Riane said. “They graciously replaced a broken part free of charge, and I was back to sewing masks within a few days!”

Riane is a member of troop 289, and her favorite memory from her time as a Girl Scout has been attending overnight summer camps in Knoxville every year. Self-described as hardworking, passionate, and friendly, some are surprised to learn she has a second-degree black belt in Taekwondo.

She loves to read, hike, snowboard and be outside. She also enjoys spending time with her friends and family. She’s getting ready for a big move and will be attending Colorado State University in the fall. We wish Riane all the best! 

Congratulations to Riane and all of our Gold Award recipients!

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