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For Gold Award, Glassman Swings for the Fences with Pet Expo

East Granby High School student organizes event with 13 vendors and two animal shelters as her Girl Scouts service project.

As an all-conference catcher on the softball team, Anna Glassman knows how to swing for the fences.

Glassman, a 17-year-old senior, is no different in her approach to life away the diamond, evidenced by her service project to earn her Girl Scouts Gold Award.

Indeed, Glassman took on the Herculean task of organizing , scheduled for this Saturday at from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., which is slated to be a fun-filled day featuring contests, games and 13 pet-related vendors, including two shelters - Bandit’s Place Animal Rescue and Mary’s Kitty Korner of Granby.

According to Girl Scouts rules, Anna cannot raise money directly for any organization as part of her project. As such, those who attend the expo are encouraged, but aren’t required, to bring a donation of supplies (e.g. wet or dry cat or dog food, paper towels, sanitizing wipes, kitchen-sized garbage bags, cat or dog toys or treats) for the animal shelters that will be present.

It’s a massive undertaking that most adults, let alone high school students, wouldn’t be able to accomplish on their own. But there's Glassman metaphorically swinging for the fences to achieve the Girl Scouts’ highest honor.

“I was told not to pick [the pet expo], and I have to admit it’s been difficult,” Glassman said in a recent interview. “But it’s been a great experience.”

Glassman chose the project after visiting a cat shelter/adoption center, which got her thinking about how to care for and find homes for the animals, said Anna’s mother Susan.

“[The project] is far larger than it needed to be to meet the goal,” Susan Glassman said. “I am obviously very proud of her. … She’s learned a great deal from the experience.”

As for Anna taking on such a huge challenge, Susan Glassman said that she isn’t surprised.

“I think it’s pretty typical,” Susan said. “Anna isn’t one who looks for the easy way out. She looks to do well at every job she’s doing.”

Lisa Shackett, president of Mary’s Kitty Korner, a shelter for cats that will be present at the expo, said that she was impressed with Anna organizing such a large event.

“It’s amazing what she has done to put this together,” Shackett said. “She had to find a place to hold it. She had to get the vendors. She’s just a high school student. She had to be unbelievably motivated to do that.”

What may be even more impressive is that Anna is going for her Gold Award, which is considered the equivalent to the Boy Scouts’ equivalent of Eagle, at all.

Gold Award recipients are exceedingly rare; just 5 percent of Girl Scouts achieve the distinction, mostly because, Anna acknowledges, Girl Scouts become “less cool” as girls reach their teenage years.

“When I was in middle school and the beginning of high school, I was embarrassed [about being a Girl Scout],” said Anna, noting that other girls made fun of her for still being involved the organization. “But in the past few years, I realized how much I love it. I’ve made friends who have been in my troop since first grade. They’re my closest friends. I have other friends, but [the Girl Scout friendships] mean the most to me.”

So, 11 years removed from her first year as a scout as a Brownie, Anna said that she hopes she can serve as a role model for other girls.

“I’m really proud that I’ve done something that most girls don’t get to do,” Anna said. “Hopefully other girls will see this as an opportunity to step out and go for their Bronze Award, their Silver Award and their Gold Award.

And what would Anna say to the people who made fun of her for still being a Girl Scout?

“It’s not embarrassing; it’s something amazing,” she said.

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