Caitlin, along with her other siblings got involved with scouting as a way to be contributing members of the community. (Photo Credit Matt Lloyd)
Caitlin Lloyd gave back to her community in a big way to complete her Girl Scout Gold Award project. Lloyd’s project, titled Suite Dreams, had her reaching out to multiple area organizations and stepping out of her comfort zone to help women and children at a tough point in their lives. “My project was focused on positively affecting the lives of the women and children living who live in fear, sadness, and poverty every day,” she wrote.
Since February, Lloyd has worked with the Women’s Safe House, a shelter in St. Louis that aids women and children that are fleeing from domestic violence. WSH, according to their website, is “open 24 hours a day, 365 days per year, serving approximately 400—600 women and children annually.” The facility does not disclose it’s location in order to keep the women and children safe. Caitlin worked in the residential portion of the program, something she was already familiar with from working on her Girl Scout Silver Award. “I made craft projects and sent them to local hospitals and to the shelter, and then later, I went to the shelter and worked on the craft projects with the children that were living there,” she said. Women and children live there for 6-8 weeks while the organization helps them get back on their feet and ready to be self reliant. Lloyd wanted to help spruce up one of the suites there to make them more cheerful and provide a sense of hope and home during a dark time. She painted a two room suite in bright colors, then enlisted the help of her troop mates from Girl Scout Troop 915 and her teammates from her YMCA of Southern Illinois swim team to make fleece blankets. “I figured with winter coming, they could definitely use warm blankets,” said Lloyd.
That wasn’t all. Lloyd went to area organizations The O’Fallon Women’s Club, the O’Fallon chapter of the Philanthropic Educational Organization sisterhood and Service Unit 201 Girl Scout Leaders and presented them with her vision for the project, which included new bedding and books to also make the suites more homey. The organizations, along with Caitlin’s parents, Matt and Kristen Lloyd, and her Girl Scout troop all banned together to give Lloyd enough donations to cover bedding for six beds and also donated over 500 books. Then Lloyd, with the help of her dad, built bookshelves to hold them all.
“That was a lot of fun. Dads don’t often get to be too involved in Girl Scouts. To be able to help her and build something with her was a lot of fun. I showed her how to do put in one screw, and she got really excited and asked for the drill. She’s very independent. She definitely asks for help when she needs it, but she did a lot of this project on her own,” said Air Force veteran Matt Lloyd. He also said that Lloyd is following in the footsteps of her older sister and her mom who are also Girl Scout Gold Award winners.
Caitlin poses with a bookshelf she made for the Women’s Safe House in St. Louis. (Photo Credit Matt Lloyd)
Lloyd has now not only earned her Girl Scout Gold Award, but has also earned the Trifecta Award for completing the Bronze and Silver Award levels. In addition to her Suite Dreams project, she also had to complete a journey to earn the prestigious award. “Our journey was called ‘So What?,’ and we visited a farm where we made food and learned about ecological footprints. One person’s ecological footprint affects the whole world,” said Lloyd.
“This project has taught me a lot of responsibility, leadership and organizational skills, and to make sure I’m managing things in a professional manner,” she said. Lloyd acknowledged that not many teens take on responsibility like that. “This has really pushed her out of her comfort zone. She’s not comfortable being in the spotlight, she doesn’t enjoy speaking in front of large groups, but she did it,” said Matt. He continued “All three of our kids got involved in scouts as a way to make each place that we lived in feel like home. We wanted to be part of our community, and that starts with making connections around you.” It’s only fitting that Caitlin applied the same principles of community outreach and providing a sense of home to her project.
She plans to continue in Girl Scouts through high school, which is just one of her many activities. She’s been a member of the OTHS Varsity swim team since she was a Freshman, swims on her YOSI swim team, is a lead delegate for Model UN and part of the youth group at Cornerstone Christian Church in Shiloh.
Caitlin has one piece of advice for everyone; “It’s important for people to realize that small things can have a big impact. Look into the community around you and find a way to give back.” Her dad added “It’s important to know that you may not get something done in a weekend, but like Caitlin did, get started and do a little bit at a time.”