Bronxville High School junior Kirsten Ircha has earned the prestigious Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest honor that a Girl Scout can earn after years of service, dedication and hard work. As a member of the Girl Scout’s Bronxville Service Unit 726, it took Ircha more than 100 hours over the course of a year to complete her extensive Gold Award project, “Healing Through Fellowship, Feelings and Food,” which has made a difference in her community.
For her project, which required a sustainable response to an issue or cause, she chose to focus on The Reformed Church of Bronxville’s Coming Home Program, and raise money and awareness on issues that affect women after incarceration, specifically emotional healing and hunger. The Coming Home Program is a re-entry program that is designed to help women rebuild their lives after being incarcerated.
“It is a nurturing, supportive program that results in these women being on their way towards rehabilitation, employment and personal healing,” Ircha said.
As part of her project, Ircha raised money and served meals at the Coming Home Program’s weekly community event that fed more than 40 people. She also provided support to the women and sent them home with weekly meal and care packages, which contained inspirational messages like “Believe in yourself.” In addition, Ircha raised awareness of the issue by serving as chairperson of the Coming Home Club of the Bronxville Youth Council at the high school and communicating with directors of other similar re-entry programs in the area.
Ircha said the women in the program appreciated her assistance and have expressed that her presence at the meetings and during the community meals helped them feel a sense of youthfulness and hope.
“The most meaningful experience for me during my Gold Award project was seeing the women graduate [from the program] with their families and friends present,” Ircha said. “Each of the six women fulfilled all the requirements of graduation, and it took a lot of time and discipline to achieve this. At graduation, several of the women mentioned in their speeches how touched they were to receive the meals my troop and I worked so hard to prepare, and they especially loved the touch of the inspirational gift bags.”
Ircha – whose family has been generously involved in a variety of community service projects – said she is grateful to be able to contribute in her community and make a positive and meaningful impact on someone else’s life. As one of the newest Gold Award recipients of the Girl Scouts Heart of the Hudson, she will be honored at an annual ceremony and luncheon in March.
Besides her involvement with the Girl Scouts, Ircha serves as vice president of the Bronxville High School’s Habitat for Humanity Club and a member of the Bronxville High School Orchestra Tri-M Music Honor Society. She’s a member of the varsity track and field team, plays handbells at The Reformed Church of Bronxville and has participated in Ukrainian dance throughout her youth and high school career. She also runs the annual Village of Bronxville Toys for Tots toy drive, which her older brother Steven and older sister Sasha founded a few years ago. Over the last two summers, Ircha has interned at the Lupus Research Alliance and helped plan the annual New York Jets Kickoff Luncheon, which raises money for the Lupus Research Alliance and Jets Foundation. In addition, she is taking a demanding course load consisting of Advanced Placement and honors-level classes.