Generosity of Thought and Inspired Action

The Guardian Gals had the privilege of hosting 100 Coffee Pauses for Causes as one of our community outreach programs.  Perhaps we wouldn’t have had such a long run with the program, had it not been for Co-Host Stacy Shafto, owner of Isabella’s Copper Pot. As well as writing an exceptional testimonial on behalf of our Coffee Pause program, Stacy was, and is, a successful businesswoman who taught the Gals by her classy, professional example. We have also been gifted with other words of encouragement and would ask you to take a moment to celebrate our successes!

Younger/Elder/Mentor/Graduate Testimonial: Aurora Walchak-Arndt, MSU Senior

Guardian Gals, Inc. is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, run by Mrs. Abby Hamilton, that inspires and teaches girls about philanthropy and the spirit of volunteerism. My name is Aurora Walchak-Arndt. I was in Guardian Gals for approximately six years, and I am now a freshman at Michigan State University. Mrs. Hamilton and the Guardian Gals, Inc. organization have influenced my life greatly in different ways, both throughout my time as a “Younger” (6th-8th grade Guardian Gals mentee) and as an “Elder” (9th-12th grade Guardian Gals mentor), certain values and lessons were always stressed and now will always be imbedded into my life.

Through Guardian Gals, Inc. I learned that VOLUNTEERING wherever I may be, not only will positively impact my surroundings, but me as well. Because I have seen and experienced how much volunteering impacts organizations and towns, I will continue to be involved in my communities wherever I am. My Guardian Gals, Inc. experiences of going to different types of volunteer outlets (Reese Animal Shelter, United Way, Alpenfest, and various other locales) allowed me to pick out what exactly I like and dislike doing. Guardian Gals, Inc. Volunteerism harbors feelings of fun on top of other feelings like accomplishment and community improvement. These feelings are important, they carry a lot of weight, and they will stick with me the rest of my life.

Another value I have learned in Guardian Gals, Inc. is the POWER OF KINDNESS. I’ve learned that no matter who I come into contact with, being kind creates happiness and makes positive differences in their lives. The Guardian Gals, Inc. philosophy of passing kindness on is ardently taught and is something I truly believe in. Kindness makes life better for everyone. This is because when someone is nice to me, I am more apt to be nice to someone else, which in turn encourages others to be nice to others and so on. In any social setting, it’s pleasant when people are kind.

Especially helpful as a freshman in college, has been the value of AUTHENTICITY (confidence of being genuinely me). As much as this is taught in school and stressed in media, Guardian Gals, Inc. provides a safe environment that allows girls to blossom into who they want to be. Mrs. Hamilton tries to expose girls to different local businesses and ideas, as well as constructive recreation that hits many types of personalities, which teaches girls about different paths in life. From cooking demonstrations at Isabella’s Copper Pot to touring the Post Office to hiking at Aspen Park, all are to allow girls to see what they might like to do as a profession or just to expose them to different opportunities available in rural Gaylord, Michigan. From various volunteer opportunities I was exposed to, to the variety of empowering activities I participated in, to the conversations and presentations I witnessed- all of it mixed together has helped me achieve sorting out what in life I like to do.

These values of AUTHENTICITY, VOLUNTEERISM, and KINDNESS are just a few standout examples of what I have learned through my Guardian Gals, Inc. experiences. I will forever hold the feelings that I have experienced and all I have learned at Guardian Gals, Inc. gatherings in my heart and I want to pass on similar ones to friends and family. It’s no secret that Guardian Gals, Inc. positively impacted my life at times when I was also compelled to explore some negative activities. The power of KINDNESS, VOLUNTEERISM, and AUTHENTICITY prevailed in my life and for this strength I will be ever grateful, as well as an activist for continuing Guardian Gals, Inc.

Elder/Mentor/Graduate Testimonial: Nicole Andrew

We walk simultaneously down the sidewalk where numerous people have looked upon us quizzically.  Often times, we are stopped in the midst of a mission just to inform people of our presence in the community. Some call us “strange,” others know we are “guardians of nature.” Regardless, our tight-knit, high-energy, magnificent clan, which is made up of pigtails, positive energy and smiles, receives a great deal of attention nowadays and formally goes by the name, “Guardian Gals.”  Being a part of this organization has been one of the most phenomenal experiences of my life because I have been given the chance to make a change, inspire young girls and spend time with my mentor.

The Guardian Gals Inc. of Gaylord is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. To me, that just means this group of 12- to 18-year-olds practice the art of philanthropy, the giving of time, talents, and treasures, to better the angelic city of Gaylord, Michigan and we do this without any hopes of reward or repayment, but for the heart-warming feeling of a job well done. Tasks we took on would differ week-to-week and we devoted our best energy to every project.  We always seemed to find more to do, so our job was never quite complete. A few examples of our past work include: delivering greeting cards and a small, considerate gift to every new business in town, sending cards of encouragement, sympathy, joy and congratulations, hosting lemonade stands, visiting the local nursing home, and sending anonymous gifts to people we knew and some we didn’t.

Even though there are new members almost every month, I develop a special attachment and connection to each bright and vivacious character. No matter how many young girls are in the group, they all appear to have their own identities and seem quite confident in their personalities; positive they can do anything. People have actually asked me why I would rather spend my time volunteering with girls much younger than myself.  I have a strong feeling if these people spent time with the majority of girls my age, they wouldn’t question my reasons. To put it boldly, I have seen more maturity and heart from the younger ladies in Guardian Gals than I see regularly with those my own age, which is a major reason I associate with this organization.  As an elder and as a mentor, I have willingly assumed the responsibility for being a role model to the younger gals.  I try my absolute hardest to inspire them, while inadvertently, they inspire me practically effortlessly.

Additionally, I am an Elder in Guardian Gals because I enjoy the fulfillment I receive from serving others. It may sound ridiculously cliché, but everything seems at peace when I do unto others as I wish would be done unto me.  Personally, I don’t remember a day where I smiled harder than the day Mrs. Hamilton, the gals and I, and our Guardian Gals Board of Directors all got together to help organize a 5k Run and Walk for our fall fundraiser. The compliments we received were priceless and the feeling of knowing that the money we raised was going to help so many people in our community made our commitment, sweat and tears well worthwhile. Seeing the outcome of any of the notable things we have done to benefit others reminds me why I would spend a portion of my days with the gals and not at the mall or movies with my friends.

Truth be told, the grandest reason I partake in childish games, skip merrily down the street making up songs, tie ribbons in my hair and spend a decent amount of time with some pretty interesting young ladies is mostly due to the founder of Guardian Gals, Inc., Mrs. Abbigail Hamilton. This woman made the entire organization possible. Without her, I would probably have wasted my high school career instead of filling it with purpose, ambition, meaning and spontaneity. She gave me hope for a better life, a positive attitude toward anything I may have doubted possible and helped me prepare for my future. Although this sounds like I received special attention, Abby instills these qualities in all the gals. Mrs. Hamilton is really the one person in my life who encourages me and makes me want to be a true Guardian Gal. Simply knowing Abby will be there, bright-eyed and cheerful when I show up is a reason to get out of bed at the crack of dawn, which is no easy task for me!

All in all, I had a remarkable time being a Guardian Gal because I had the opportunity to inspire the hearts and mold the minds of young women, do great things in my community and spend time with my mentor.  I have been blessed to be a part of this organization for 12 years and I hope to serve time as an elder for many years to come. This is one experience I would not trade for the world!

Elder Testimonial: Kelly Nemeth, GVSU Junior

As a junior at GVSU now, it is nearly impossible to express and explain all that Guardian Gals and its Director, Abby Hamilton, have done to impact my life in the past 11 years. From the beginning I had no idea that such a simple get-together to have tea would turn into a young girls’ philanthropic nonprofit organization. Being one of the two continuing original Guardian Gals as a high school senior, I had the pleasure of watching this group grow and reach the success it is today. This alone has had numerous affects on my life.  One such affect is that I now know you can truly do anything when you set your mind to it.

Without this opportunity I honestly don’t think I would be nearly as enlightened as I am. Learning the importance of philanthropy at an early age has helped me not only see who I am, but how vital it is to share with others, as there is not one person on this planet that is without need of help, whether it be a major problem, such as lack of essential needs, or a minor issue, like having an off day. Too many people believe that to help someone you have to give up everything, when really, that’s not the case at all.

Everyone in the world, rich or poor, has something they can contribute to other people, whether it is time or a smile. Something as simple as smile-sharing, when you have one to share, is enough.  Though it may be hard to believe, smiling can make someone’s day better. Today, people in our world tend to forget the simple things because there is so much pain and hurt that overpowers the amount of help available. Just imagine what our world could be like if everyone counted their blessings over their sorrows and did just one positive thing for a different person every day?

Fifteen minutes of time, a few kind words, an amazingly bright smile – everyone has something to contribute. Random kind notes on cars and smiling at strangers in stores – simple gestures like these feel really good to everyone, especially on rough days. At first these gestures are shocking, but in the long run, they make people feel better and more hopeful, just knowing that there is still someone in the world with the gentility to improve people’s days. Sooner or later the little things create a ripple effect and slowly impact the lives of many. All of this, whether directly or indirectly taught, I have learned from my many experiences as a Guardian Gal.

Not only has Guardian Gals allowed me to envision the world in a new light, it has opened numerous opportunities to grow my future as well. These types of encounters, with the enormous record of volunteer hours I’ve received from it, made applying for scholarships and colleges easier. When it came time for a letter of recommendation, I didn’t even have to think for more than one second about who knew me the best besides my peers and family. It was clear that Mrs. Hamilton knew exactly how to portray me in my best light, since she was the one who helped me become the woman I am today.

I’ve realized most “gals” my age were never offered the Guardian Gals’ eye-opening experiences, or that many are just starting to figure out what I already learned.  I’ve been at it since the summer before 6th grade.  I’ve gotten to a point that I can recognize in order to make a larger difference in other’s lives more often, you have to help yourself first. I know that the more emotionally, physically and economically stable I am as a person, the bigger the impact I can have in the lives of others.  The only way I can do that is to use what I’ve learned and done to further my education for a more promising career. Guardian Gals helped secure this option for me as Mrs. Hamilton’s goal is to make sure every senior moves on to continue and teach all that she has learned as an adolescent girl, making her all that she’s meant to be as a young woman.

I’m just now realizing that with the positive experiences have also come an amazing variety of people in the community that I have been able to get to know. This is becoming vitally helpful to me because when any problem arises, no matter the problem, there is almost always someone for me to turn to, who can help me problem-solve an answer in seconds. This is something that has come in handy for me over the past 11 years.

Along with the ability to assist me to solve my problems, there are the people who have opened new doors for me as well. I am learning that it is always beneficial to know a large variety of people in the community where one lives because chances are they will always be willing to help when they know the impact I’ve attempted to make with my own efforts.  People tend to help those who help themselves.

Overall, there is not one negative thing I can say about anything I’ve experienced or learned through Guardian Gals. Without this experience, I would see things differently than the view I’ve been given. I wouldn’t want to change or lose a memory I’ve made through Guardian Gals because every experience has impacted my life in a healthy manner. I’ve learned to see the importance of volunteering and how great it feels to improve the lives of others.  In me, I feel an aspiration to change the world, in even the smallest ways, and also, I feel pride for what I have done, to give others the same ambition.

Updated 6/23/15