Local Scout turns art into community service
by Morgan Smith
Having been a Girl Scout for nearly 10 years, rising junior Meghan Brown wanted to see her time as a Scout through to the end, and was happy to find she could use some of her favorite past times to help with the tedious Girl Scout Gold Award.
Brown started with the Scouts as a Brownie in the first grade. With her mom as the troop leader, and her friends by her side, Meghan said all the hard work going into the program has been well worth the time. As her project wraps up, she’s excited to have the free time, but also wants to use her skills for the greater good of the community.
That’s why she has invested so much time in her Gold Award that will benefit the abused children going through the Pat’s Place program, a local nonprofit in uptown Charlotte and the only child advocacy center in Mecklenburg County. The program serves children from birth to 18 and exists to help reduce trauma and promote healing from sexual abuse.
Meghan heard about the program through a detective friend, and was immediately intrigued, she said, especially since her parents were foster parents when she was little.
“I knew I wanted to work with kids that have been abused,” Meghan said. “I just really like what they’re doing and (hope) that people gain knowledge of Pat’s Place and just know it’s out there.”
Meghan started talking to Pat’s Place more than six months ago, where they began to brainstorm ideas for her project. Part one of her project includes collecting journals as gifts for kids as they enter Pat’s Place.
“Every time a kid comes in to get interviewed or who has been abused, they give them a gift or present or something,” she said.
So far, Meghan has collected close to 100 journals. But she’s not finished yet.
“My goal is 150 and it definitely would be good to go over that,” she added.
Part two of Meghan’s project is to incorporate an art wall in Pat’s Place. The organization recently moved to a larger spot on East Boulevard and was looking for ways to make the environment more kid-friendly, Megan said.
“The artwork will make Pat’s Place more friendly and more homey so it’s not like a doctor’s office or a police station. It’s more friendly and it just makes them feel more calm or open,” Meghan said.
Meghan has already held two art camps for her project with local Girl Scout troops. Work from the camps will be displayed throughout the Pat’s Place building.
New to the Gold Award this year is the idea that the project must be sustainable, meaning Meghan had to find people or other organizations to take on and continue her project.
Luckily Meghan’s mom knew the troop leader for Girl Scout Troop 92, who will continue the journal drive for their Girl Scout Bronze Award, a troop-wide project.
And for part two, Meghan was happy to have the help of Joyce McGarry, a Girl Scout mom herself, teacher assistant at Providence Spring Elementary and director of The Artistic Playground, an art summer camp for kids ran out of McGarry’s own garage.
Meghan participated in TAP herself for two to three years. She’s handed the artistic reigns of her project over to McGarry and her program, which gives students the option to donate one or more pieces to display at Pat’s Place.
“I think it’s very exciting. I work at a school so its nice to see things for children,” McGarry said. “Especially since I’ve known Meghan for a long time since she’s friends with my daughter and has been in the same troop. I’ve seen how these girls have grown. They are always about giving back to the community.”
McGarry said every year, she likes for TAP to give to charity in some way.
“I think it’s really nice that we get to do something for children,” she said about this year’s art donation to Pat’s Place.
“We possibly might do at least 20 or more pieces, especially if we hold another camp in July,” she added. “These children are very prolific painters so they do a lot of pieces. And it makes them feel so proud that their work will be displayed somewhere besides their house.”