By Autumn Jarrett | Special to Independent Newsmedia
When Tempe resident, Victoria Thurman’s grandfather complained about the lack of artwork on the walls at his assisted-living facility, she noticed an opportunity for her photography to serve a bigger purpose.
“With the lack of artwork in assisted living, I wanted my photography to help stimulate thoughts and memories,” said Thurman. “And serve as an outlet to help with the boredom, anxiety, loneliness, and depression that is often felt when living in assisted living. That is why it was important for me to dedicate my Gold Award project to this need.”
The Gold Award is the highest honor high-school-aged Girl Scouts can earn, requiring a minimum of 80 hours of work on a project that creates a sustainable solution to a problem that they have identified in their communities.
Historically, many of the Gold Award recipients go on to become leaders in their community, with 60% of Girl Scout alum currently involved in volunteer work, community service, or holding public office.
Thurman began her Gold Award project by taking over 1,000 pictures to be created into canvas, slideshows, and presentations.
“I wanted my photography to be a variety of things that the residents could relate to like being on an airplane, snorkeling in someplace like Maui, items from their childhoods, and things that would relax them and trigger positive memories,” said Thurman.
Thurman planned to begin implementing her artwork at a local assisted living facility in Tempe and two others in Lannister, Pennsylvania, but then the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
“Locally, I could no longer go into the facility to hang the canvas,” said Thurman. “Luckily, I was still able to drop off the canvas to be hung by staff. This was important to me since I knew the artwork could help many of the residents during the pandemic when they could no longer see their families.”
Thurman also created picture books for all three assisted living facilities, but with the pandemic, the residents were unable to use them.
“Since the books would be a shared item between the residents, they could not use them because of COVID-19 protocols,” said Thurman. “So, I created a website that would host all the books and slideshows digitally and would be able to be projected for the residents to safely view.”
After developing a website to host the photography, Thurman raised the money needed to purchase a TV and a Firestick for the assisted living facility in Tempe, so the residents could view the slideshows and presentations while also being socially distanced.
“Now that the COVID-19 protocols are beginning to be lifted, the residents are able to use books in addition to still having access to view the slideshows and presentations digitally,” said Thurman.
While becoming a Gold Award Girl Scout, Thurman learned a valuable life lesson along the way:
“I learned the importance of always being flexible and ready to adapt to meet my goals,” said Thurman.
This fall, Thurman will be a senior at Corono Del Sol and will graduate in May 2022. She is planning to apply to NAU to pursue a degree in marketing.
“Thanks to Girl Scouts, I have had so many different experiences and opportunities that have helped mold me into the woman I am today,” said Thurman. “I have become a leader, learned to set goals, and learned to adapt when challenges arise to still meet my goals.”