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Preparing the West Knox FISH Pantry for a New Generation: A Gold Girl Story

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Celestina Pint of Knoxville describes herself as creative, independent, and curious – traits that helped her as she developed and executed a project to revitalize West Knox FISH Pantry by updating its facilities and online presence. As a result of her efforts, she was named a 2022 Gold Award Girl Scout.    

Gold Award Girl Scouts are high schoolers who address issues they’re passionate about by planning and implementing a project that produces lasting change in the community and beyond. It is the Girl Scouts’ highest and most prestigious honor.

Celestina created a plan, secured a team, and then renovated the pantry to create a more efficient system for volunteers to use, and also developed a social media strategy to engage young people in order to grow a new generation of volunteers. She created a volunteer manual to further help the pantry recruit and retain new volunteers.

“I have volunteered with the West Knox FISH Pantry for as long as I can remember,” Celestina shares. Noting the condition of the pantry located in the basement of a local church, she wanted to make improvements and wanted her work to make the most impact for the community. She created a survey for pantry volunteers and used their feedback as she planned her project. 

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Celestina and her team painted the walls of the pantry and built a stand to help stabilize a conveyor belt as part of the pantry's facelift. 

“The majority of volunteers at the pantry were retirees, and I saw that a younger group of volunteers was necessary to ensure the pantry’s ability to serve future generations. I’ve always cared deeply about the issues of hunger and poverty, so my favorite days ended in exhaustion after hours of painting, cleaning, and moving shelves. I was exhausted but proud of the progress we made.”

She navigated obstacles such as planning the timeline to accommodate the pantry delivery schedule and to coincide with quarterly pantry meetings. Initially worried that she would not have enough volunteers for renovation days, her church, family, and friends promoted the project, and she had plenty of help.

Celestina will take important lessons gained from this project with her as she finishes high school and looks forward to college. “I learned practical skills like woodworking and web design, but more importantly, I learned how to implement an ambitious project and prove that I can accomplish something if I put my mind to it. I learned how to communicate effectively with adults and lead a group of volunteers, and the impact that we made gave me confidence that I can make a difference.”

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Celestina pictured with some of the many helping hands that participated in the renovation. 

She enjoys spending time with her friends, weekly game nights with her extended family, and going on adventures with her Girl Scout friends, remembering one favorite backpacking trip taken last year. “Our small group backpacked around Big South Fork for three days, and although we came across a few issues like freezing cold nights and getting lost on the way to our campsite, I had the time of my life. I can’t wait to go on my next trip at the end of this summer!”

Celestina’s hobbies include dancing, baking, traveling, and hiking, and “I always have an unfinished craft or project at my desk because I love making things.” She has a passion for math and science and wants to do research that will positively impact global health, so she is considering biomedical engineering.

Congratulations, Celestina! Visit girlscoutcsa.org to learn more about the Girl Scouts.  

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Celestina poses with some of the West Knox FISH Pantry leadership. They met to discuss the pantry's new website.