Minnesota Girl Scout putting others first with Gold Award project

Brett Hoffland
Updated: September 28, 2020 06:21 PM
Created: September 16, 2020 04:40 PM

A 16-year-old Girl Scout from Paynesville raised nearly $20,000 to help others in case of an emergency.

Kaitlyn Gilk has been earning badges since she was little. 

"I've been in Girl Scouts since I was in first grade since I was six or seven," Kaitlyn, a Paynesville High School junior, said.

Being a Girl Scout is a commitment that not everyone can handle especially mixed with all the other things a 16-year-old has on her plate.

"It definitely takes a lot of time and a lot of energy," she said. 

But there was one award that Gilk has always wanted to go for. 

"The Gold Award is the highest award you can earn in Girl Scouts," Gilk said. 

That's when she looked at a project that would help others, and it involves bringing life-saving technology to communities that need them. 

"Her involvement in this has been nothing but fantastic," said Rich Feneis, founder of Advocates for Health. 

Gilk is working with a company that so far has brought 60 AED's or SaveStations to outdoor public spaces all around Central Minnesota. 

"Our vision is to save lives," Feneis said. 

Gilk saw this as an opportunity she wanted to be a part of because before this, Paynesville didn't have any AED's that are accessible all day and all night in public, something that can be helpful while waiting for first responders. 

"I thought this would be a great project to bring to Paynesville, save lives, and also accomplish my Gold Award," Gilk said. 

She's raised $17,000 and counting through grants and fundraisers and is hoping to bring five SaveStations all around town including city hall.

"She's got more poise and confidence than someone twice her age," Feneis said. 

This 16-year-old will be the first gold award recipient from Paynesville in over a quarter-century, but Gilk admits, it's about much more than that. 

"Just the fact that I'd be able to help somebody's life would just mean the world to me," Gilk said.

For more information about SaveStations and Advocates for Health, click here

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