By Mike Strasser, Fort Drum Garrison Public AffairsApril 3, 2019
FORT DRUM, N.Y. (April 3, 2019) -- Six Fort Drum Girl Scouts, two troop leaders and two council members accepted Presidential Service Awards from Maj. Gen. Walter E. Piatt, 10th Mountain Division (LI) and Fort Drum commander, during a ceremony April 1 at division headquarters.
The President's Volunteer Service Award recognizes individuals who have earned distinction through community service, either in a 12-month period or over the course of a lifetime.
Piatt said that he was impressed by all of the contributions made by the Scouts, considering the effort it takes to balance volunteer hours with school work and extracurricular activities.
"Just think about the time management involved to do that," he said. "That's not something lost on those who serve in the military, because we do that all the time. Time is one of the most precious resources we have."
He said that volunteers are crucial in every military community, and that Fort Drum Girl Scouts Service Unit 512 has made a significant impact on post and throughout the North Country. Collectively, the Scouts receiving awards recorded 969 hours of community service in 2018.
"I appreciate all that you've done," Piatt said. "I look at the great resumes of all these young women here, and what they were able to do. They saw a need and they filled it. You've made a great impact and you've changed people's lives beyond what you will ever know or can measure."
Carlyann Crossno received a Presidential Service Gold Award for dedicating 329 hours of volunteer service in 2018. Carlyann, a Carthage High School freshman, first joined the Girl Scouts while in kindergarten. Ten years later, Carlyann said that it is the leadership skills and opportunities to advance that keep her active in this program. She recorded most of her volunteer hours while assisting at the SPCA in Watertown.
"I love helping animals," she said. "My mom works there as well, so I could spend a lot of time volunteering when she is there."
Eden Johnson also earned a Presidential Service Gold Award. She volunteered 110 hours as a Cadette Girl Scout, and she is currently working on a Silver Award Project to assist the SPCA. Eden has helped to maintain the Girl Scout Hut and aided with program assistance and youth peer development in her service unit.
Mary and Libby Pflaum each received a Presidential Service Gold Award. They volunteered in events such as Fort Drum Outdoor Adventure Day, Beautify LeRay Day and the International Food Festival.
A 9th grader at Carthage High School, Mary recorded 101 community service hours while serving as a youth lector, Kidz Camp assistant and special events volunteer at St. Michael's Parish on post. She volunteered with the YMCA gymnastics team, and the SPCA and also planted trees with the Thousand Island Land Trust.
Mary once volunteered at her uncle's small business in Colorado, and she said that was her favorite among all the places she has supported.
"He runs a dinosaur camp for children, and my cousins and I assisted him in teaching the kids," she said. "It was really nice to see kids learning. I had attended the camp when I was little, and it was fun to walk them through what I had learned from my uncle."
Mary said that she hopes to write a book on driver's license and permit requirements for each state.
Libby, an 8th grader at Carthage Middle School, performed 104 hours of service, to include posting trail signs at Camp Trefoil, and cleaning and organizing the Fort Drum Girl Scout Hut. To earn her Silver Award the previous year, she cleaned and replanted garden beds at the Meadowbrook Terrace Assisted Living Facility in Carthage.
Their mother, Amy Pflaum, received the Presidential Service Bronze Award for serving as a troop co-leader. She started as a parent volunteer in 2018 and took on the responsibility of guiding six Scouts through their Silver Award Project.
Also receiving a Presidential Service Bronze Award were Heather Turner, who accumulated more than 612 hours of service as troop leader , and Melissa Johnson, who recorded more than 280 volunteer hours as unit treasurer.
Staff Sgt. Brenda Pacheco, assigned to 1st Brigade Combat Team, is active in the Girl Scouts with her husband and three daughters. Pacheco volunteered 461 hours of her time to assist Scout activities and earned the Presidential Service Silver Award. She is credited with supporting youth groups in event planning and is known for her leadership, creativeness and selfless service.
Raul Pacheco contributed more than 900 hours in 2018 as the service unit manager for the Fort Drum Girl Scouts. A recipient of the Presidential Service Gold Award, Pacheco is credited with developing new programs for Scouts at Fort Drum, to include a newly developing robotics team. His efforts has increased the volunteer force in this service unit by 80 percent and increased Scout registration by 60 percent.
"This troop is so active in the community and is always doing things like camping and just seeking adventure," he said. "It just inspired me."
Pacheco said that the Girl Scouts gave his daughters a place where they can be social with others and feel a sense of purpose.
"Finding something where they can interact with other girls, get involved and do things -- that just flourished into a family event for all of us," he said.
Two of his daughters, Emeli and Daniela Pacheco, volunteered 200 and 125 hours, respectively. Emeli supported beautification projects at the Girl Scout Hut and Fort Drum Post Office areas, and she has assisted in youth development programs. She is also active in her school swimming team and orchestra. Emeli was awarded a Presidential Service Gold Award.
Daniela, a recipient of the Presidential Service Bronze Award, said that she joined the Girl Scouts after seeing how much Emeli enjoyed it. She spent time last summer recruiting new members by introducing them to different activities and educating them on what they can achieve through the Girl Scouts. Daniela is a babysitter, certified in CPR, and has donated her services at events and meetings when child care was not available.
As the oldest in Service Unit 512, she also serves as the Girl Scout Ambassador.
"That means a lot to me, because it kind of puts you in a leadership role to set the example for the other girls," Daniela said. "They look to you as a big sister. I've always liked the idea of Girls Scouts and always wanted to be one. Being the ambassador and the eldest is a really big honor."
After the ceremony, Piatt led the group on a tour of division headquarters and highlighted some of the 10th Mountain Division history on display in the command group hallway and in his office.
Pacheco said that he is proud of all of the scouts and adult leaders who have helped strengthen the Fort Drum Girl Scout Service Unit.
"The people who are earning these awards are the ones who have really brought this service unit together, brought it back to life, really," he said. "They are extremely active, and what these girls have shown is that no matter what age you are, you can contribute to the community."
To learn more about the Fort Drum Girl Scouts, visit https://www.facebook.com/ftdrumgirlscouts/.