Is this Service or Take Action: The Basic 411.
Is our project a Take Action project or a service project? What’s the difference? These questions come up frequently from both volunteers and girls who are delving into the Journeys and highest awards and exploring how they can make a difference in their community. Service has a very simple definition “a helpful act” [Merriam-Webster’s dictionary]. Community service projects are frequently organized for the community to help them with a specific and short-term need. Coordinating a food drive for the local food pantry is a great example of a community service project. It addresses the very specific need that food pantry has for goods and it’s impact is short term as the shelves will likely be empty again in a few weeks and another food drive will be needed to refill them. This project in partnership with the food pantry would be a great way for CSA girls to earn their Community Service Bars but it’s not a Take Action project.
A Take Action project picks up where that short-term fix of the service project leaves off with these three essential elements; it identifies the root cause of that community need, it has long term benefits, and sustainable community support. Check out this Take Action Workshop outline created by Girl Scouts Heart of the South for a really in-depth look at the definition of Take Action and how to move from a service project to a Take Action project. Remember the most essential difference is that Take Action projects do something WITH the community to meet a need while service projects do something FOR a community. So for our example community need from above (hungry people) a solution could be to approach community organizations about establishing a community garden for the food pantry and creating a “simple tips to growing your own food” pamphlet with seeds to distribute to food pantry customers to enable them to grow their own food in the future. This project directly involves those who will benefit from it in meeting the need, has a long term-plan, and the community organization sponsoring it will ensure that it continues past when the Girl Scouts who began it have moved on. So does the difference between Service and Take Action make sense now? We hope so. Now that you understand the basics, stay tuned for our next blog entry where we delve deeper into the essential steps (hint: there are 5) to an effective Take Action project. So what will your next Take Action project be?