Playa Vista’s Girl Scout Troop 6715 makes a difference in the community
By Michele Robinson / Photo by Chris Mortenson
Based in Playa Vista, Girl Scout Troop 6715 consists of four dedicated members: Alia Jackson, Alina Miranda, Chelsea Sargent and Daniya Williams. Although this seventh-grade troop is small, together they are mighty. All four members are working hard to earn their Silver Award, the second highest award in Girl Scouting and the highest award for a Girl Scout Cadette.
To earn a Silver Award, a limited number of Girl Scouts can work together to create a service project. The project has very specific guidelines, which include a minimum of 50 hours of volunteer service from each participant to help the community. As a component of earning their Silver Award, the troop needs to complete a journey beforehand and find outlets to spread their words to the public.
Troop 6715 is currently working on their Media Journey and chose to focus their mission on the negative effects of the media and social media on teenage girls. Together they wrote an essay that will be featured in The Argonaut’s Op-Ed section in April.
An excerpt from their essay: “Young teen girls are quite vulnerable when it comes to their exposure to social media. This group is so early in their development that when they are exposed to images from others who may be experiencing life in different ways, in terms of body image or life experiences, it can cause feelings of insecurities or inadequacies.”
The origins of Troop 6715 stem way back to when the girls were first-graders at Playa Vista Elementary School. Sargent’s and Miranda’s moms, Dameka Phelps and Diana Duque-Miranda, were instrumental in creating the troop and volunteering as co-troop leaders. Their goal was to keep them together and support them as they became more responsible.
“Alina and Chelsea have been good friends since kindergarten, so we wanted a way to keep that going,” Phelps says. “We started it when they were in first grade. At one point we had 12 girls in the troop, but many of the girls went to different middle schools.”
Over the years, the troop has been very active in the Playa Vista community.
“All of the girls attended Playa Vista Elementary School, which is where the troop began, and continue to work on many projects in the community including a fundraising carnival and a Community Love Rocks project supported by PVPal,” Duque-Miranda says.
What is remarkable about Troop 6715 is that each troop member takes an active role in leading a community service event. During the height of the pandemic, Jackson spearheaded a project to help the unhoused in Los Angeles. In December 2020, she planned and organized a “care package” project.
Under her leadership, each troop member created around 20 to 25 bags containing essential items like food, water, toothpaste and socks, and donated them to people living in tents on the streets and eventually to a shelter in Westchester. Jackson and her fellow troop members are proud of their efforts to help those in need.
“It makes you happy inside,” Jackson says.
Williams led the troop in a green project that helped restore the Ballona Wetlands habitat. For the project, the girls got their hands dirty by cleaning up the area and restoring it. During the outing, they spent time removing overgrown weeds that ruined native plants. They also spent two to three hours planting new crops and removing trash around the area.
“We wanted to make a difference in our community and help the environment,” Williams says.
Miranda chose to create a fun event for her community service project. In October 2017, she led the troop in creating a festival to raise money for schools in both Puerto Rico and Houston. Both schools were in need of school supplies after being impacted by hurricanes.
Her inspiration to help the school in Puerto Rico came from two important reasons: one was Hurricane Maria, which caused unprecedented destruction in Puerto Rico the prior month.
The other was more personal—two of her cousins attended one of the impacted schools, so she knew help was needed. The troop pooled their resources together and offered face painting, a jumper and bake sale for people to enjoy for a nominal fee. The event was a success and the troop raised $1,000. All the proceeds were used to purchase school supplies for students of The Julia de Burgos Elementary in Puerto Rico and Kolter Elementary in Houston, which had suffered losses from Hurricane Harvey in August 2017. The students from the schools were thrilled and sent the troop signed cards and pictures.
“It’s important to give back to people, a little change makes a big difference,” Miranda says. “Our troop hopes to make people’s lives a little better.”
Under Sargent’s leadership, the troop obtained their Bronze Award. The goal for her project was to help spread love, kindness and joy by creating “Love Rocks.” The troop used around 300 to 350 river rocks donated by BrightView Landscape Services, the landscape company servicing Playa Vista. To obtain the rocks, Sargent led a meeting where the entire troop presented their proposal, as well as a request for rock donations, to Dawn Suskin, executive director of Playa Vista Parks and Landscape Corporation.
Suskin approved the placement of the rocks throughout the Playa Vista community and arranged the rock donations for the project from BrightView Landscaping. On the rocks, they painted lovely inspirational messages like “I Am Bold” and “I Am Amazing.” The beautifully decorated rocks were then placed around the Playa Vista community in random locations for people to find.
“Our goal was to uplift the community and bring a smile to their faces,” Sargent says.
Troop 6715 also sells Girl Scout cookies, sang Christmas carols at Playa Vista’s Sunrise Home for Seniors, and continues to plan other volunteer opportunities to help the community.
“We hope the girls will reach the finish line and meet the goal of getting the Gold Award,” Phelps says. “It is a badge of honor to carry forever.”