Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Golden Girl

Today for more than four hours after finals, Michael, a senior boy from China, counted pennies in my classroom. For seventeen conecutive years, our students at WCS have collected loose change to help build and sustain Christian orphanages in Honduras and now Haiti. It has become a part of our school culture. Taylor, who I write about below and one of my favorrite people in the world, is an integral part of that culture herself. This is from 2-12-06.

I never made it too far in Scouting. Mom was a den mother and I liked the banquets but it wasn't really for me. Boy Scouts would have been much more time consuming that Cub Scouts so I retired after the rank of Webeloes. I have always admired young men who kept going where I left off. A number of my students have achieved Eagle Scout, the highest level in Boy Scouts. Last summer, I attended the Eagle ceremony of Jonathan Miller, one of our seniors at Westbury Christian School. It was an impressive celebration.

Last night, I participated in the recognition of another Scouting accomplishment. In Girl Scouts, the highest level
attainable is the Gold Award. It requires a minimum commitment of fifty hours and combines leadership and organization skills in a project to bless others. Yesterday's recipient was Taylor Aschermann, a Westbury Christian School junior and one of my students in 8th and 10th grades. During her four years at our school, Taylor has been involved in our project to raise funds for Jovenes en Camino, a Christian orphanage for homeless boys in El Zamarano, Honduras. Our kids collect change in bank bottles provided by Preston Hill, father of one of our seniors. Students at WCS, along with those from Friendship Christian, will pass the $150,000 mark this May in funds raised. Taylor, besides contributing her pennies-nickels-dimes-quarters, has taken an active role in counting and depositing the money. (You KNOW the bank loves to see us coming with all that change!) Because her heart was touched by these children, Taylor devised a unique project. Working with Steve Davidson, US director of Jovenes en Camino, Taylor decided to collect something vital to little boys everywhere: socks and underwear. She worked so hard. Taylor wrote a play and put it on in churches. She contacted individuals and businesses. She devised lessons for the kids in our after-school program. Taylor, on the reserved side, had to step out of her comfort zone, getting in front of crowds and making phone calls to people she had never met. Nature threw a curve, christened Hurricane Katrina, at her. Normal life in Houston ceased for weeks as we were given the task of opening our doors and resources to victims from New Orleans. This happened in the middle of Taylor's plans. Showing flexibility, this young lady modified her project and handled obstacles flawlessly. Taylor was able to ship her impressive collection to Honduras, by way of Nashville, Tennessee so that a bunch of young men she has never met were clothed by Christmas.

The ceremony was heartwarming. Taylor's mother, Princess, welcomed us and served as emcee. Girl Scout representatives spoke about Taylor and the impact of attaining this prestigious award in post-high school years. After receiving her Gold Award pin, Taylor thanked everyone who had a part in her efforts. I overviewed the work our schools have done on behalf of Jovenes en Camino. A video of the boys of JEC put the postscript on the event. As in most joyous occasions, we had a meal when all the words were spoken. It, too, was awesome! I had several insights as the night went by. One person with an idea and a heart can make a difference in an indifferent world. No one achieves greatness by themselves- the Aschermann home was filled with relatives and friends who lent time, expertise, and encouragement in this endeavor which required eighty hours. The project, while celebrated, is not complete. The commitment includes a trip this summer for Taylor and her mom to Honduras to work with the boys at Jovenes en Camino. Their lives will never be the same. In Matthew 25, Jesus tells of the judgement when he praises those who will inherit his kingdom by saying "I needed clothes and you clothed me." When surprise was expressed, the Savior revealed that "whatever you did for the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me." I'm confident in saying that Jesus has little brothers in Honduras that tonight will go to sleep in new socks and underwear. There's a girl in Houston they can thank. Her name is Taylor.

Applicable quote of the day:
"I think the most enduring lesson I was taught through my experiences of being a Girl Scout was that I was a member of a larger community. I outgrew my uniforms and badges years ago, but the memories of visiting nursing homes or organizing Earth Day tree plantings or my summers camping with girls from all different backgrounds will stay with me always."
Natalie Merchant/ Singer

God bless,
Steve (Cub Scout Pack 173, York, Nebraska)
Luke 18:1
E-mail me at

1 comment:

Princess said...

Steve, your write up really seized the moment in your comments about this weekend when we celebrated Taylor's Gold Award. As I looked around the room, I saw faces that gave in so many ways to further God's kingdom by helping a teen that was operating outside her comfort zone! That theme that we shared seems so familiar (and comforting) with the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are blessed.

You have been a friend and mentor to my family and my daughter and we love you for it.

Blessings, Taylor's Mom, Princess