Bose leads Girl Scout troop in supporting senior community

Bose leads Girl Scout troop in supporting senior community

Anjali Bose (10), at right, and her sister create care packages to send to local senior care facilities. They, along with their Girl Scout troop, have delivered more than 500 packages to six locations so far.

As part of a project with her Girl Scout troop, Anjali Bose (10) recently began sending videos and delivering care packages to senior homes. Due to her proximity and previous experience with Belmont Village Senior Living, Bose said she felt that this was a way to support her local community.

“I’ve done a lot of stuff with Belmont Village since it’s right down the street from where I live,” Bose said. “I went to work with them with my old troop, and we would go and sing for them or play the piano for them directly in their lobbies.”

Given the current social distancing situation, Bose knew that the senior homes would be hit especially hard.

“The seniors are not getting any contact with other people, which is something they need,” Bose said. “Everybody keeps donating to hospitals, which is completely understandable since they need the masks, but these elderly people in the senior homes need the care too.”

Thus, Bose, along with her mother, Debjani Bose, and her troop leader, Rita Kanno, planned a project to support the senior care facilities. They decided to include tissues, face masks, and bottles of hand sanitizer in their packages. However, they lacked the money to buy large quantities of every item, so they turned to other sources of hand sanitizer and masks.

For hand sanitizer, Bose reached out to local distilleries that have repurposed their facilities to help increase community access to hand sanitizer.

“We’re actually getting some of our hand sanitizer from another high-schooler,” Bose said. “He’s a junior at Pacific Ridge School in Carlsbad, and he’s volunteering with his chemistry teacher, who has a distillery.”

As for masks, Bose said that her troop has been receiving donations from several local non-profit organizations, including the San Diego Masketeers and Build-a-Home Foundation. Bose added that she wants to start making masks herself, once AP testing ends.

So far, Bose and her troop have delivered about 200 care packages to six different senior homes, more than 500 in total and counting.

“The smaller homes had around 50 residents, but there’s been one home that we haven’t [fully provided packages for] because we ran out of supplies,” Bose said. “As soon as we get more, we’ll go back and make sure that every resident gets a package.”

In addition to the care packages, Bose organized videos to send to the seniors.

“Initially, we were just going to send care packages,” Bose said. “But then we were like, why not go a step further?”

The videos featured members of the troop doing a variety of activities, such as reading from a book, playing musical instruments, and performing magic tricks.

“We’re doing anything from singing to teaching little art projects,” Bose said. “Just something to keep the seniors engaged in this time when they can’t have visitors or family come over.”

Bose, center, and her troop gather in the lobby of the Autism Resource and Treatment Center in Rancho Bernardo.

In the future, Bose said she hopes to coordinate Zoom calls so that she and Troop 2927 can perform for the seniors live. However, she has encountered some difficulty in arranging this with the activities directors of the senior homes.

“There are so many people involved at the senior homes to keep them running, so it’s hard to find the right person to talk to,” Bose said. “The activities directors aren’t there that often, so it’s hard to get into contact to figure out logistics.”

Arranging Zoom calls becomes more complicated as more people are involved, as well.

“All of the activities directors are for the idea,” Bose said. “It’s just that there are so many people, and they don’t know how to get it started. I hope that once quarantine ends, this project can just be in person.”

She also aims to increase the range of the project, mainly through social media outreach and networking.

“Right now, it’s pretty local—within a five, 10-mile radius,” Bose said. “We want to start branching out and eventually get other troops into it, too. We want it to get as spread out as we can to reach out to whoever needs help, especially during this time.”

Though the project is ongoing, she said that she has learned a lot throughout the process.

“I’ve never done anything like this, something that directly helped somebody,” Bose said. “The whole thing is definitely a learning experience, from contacting people to donating. It’s definitely strengthening my communication skills.”

Additionally, Bose said, she has learned more about herself.

“This experience has taught me about being rewarded, about doing acts of kindness without expecting anything in return,” Bose said. “I’ve never explicitly said that I want something from being nice to somebody, but I’ve gained more awareness of myself about that.”

Many of the senior care facilities have expressed their thanks for the packages and videos, Bose said, particularly through Instagram, where the troop maintains an account. A few of the messages have been especially personal.

“We recently received an email from the granddaughter of one of the residents at a senior living facility who said that her grandmother, who’s 95, received a care package,” Kanno said. “She was so touched by it that she wanted to write the troop a thank-you card.”

Bose found that this kind of gratification is what she values most in helping others.

“Looking back on the project, I think I’ll remember that the most,” Bose said. “Just to see that note, those few sentences, was so heartwarming.”

Bose and her troop stand at the entrance to the Belmont Village Senior Living community in Sabre Springs.

Unlike many Girl Scouts, Bose has not remained in one troop for the duration of her membership. Her original troop, which she joined in second grade, disbanded during middle school when many of the members switched schools or moved away. Bose then continued as a Juliette, a Girl Scout independent of any one troop who participates in Girl Scout activities and contributes to the community on their own time.

A few years later, Bose’s younger sister joined a Girl Scout troop of her own, and Bose decided to become a member too, despite the roughly four-year age gap.

“Because I’m older than them, I’m more of a leader who guides them,” Bose said. “It’s still my own troop, but I’m also kind of separate.”

Even with this distance, Bose values the constructive setting of the troop.

“There’s a lot more support that you don’t get while you’re a Juliette,” Bose said. “It’s much more motivating because of the ‘team environment.’”

Rita Kanno, one of the troop leaders, values Bose’s presence in the multi-level troop.

“The reason why it’s so important to have somebody like Anjali in the troop is that it’s easier for the younger girls to listen to advice and guidance from somebody that looks older but is not a mom,” Kanno said. “The girls really look up to her because of the way she presents herself as a leader.”

Kanno said that Bose especially strengthened her image as a role model through this project.

“Anjali is helping [the girls] learn that giving back not only helps those people but also empowers them to make a difference,” Kanno said. “My hope is that they see what a huge impact this has made on the world. Just the fact that we touched one person’s heart, especially in a time like this when a lot of people are in a dark place, is so important.”

To Bose, the project embodies what it ultimately means to be a Girl Scout.

“Being a Girl Scout is all about learning stuff for yourself not only so that you can help yourself grow but also so that you can give back to the community, even if you don’t get anything in return,” Bose said. “I hope that this project will help to teach them that.”

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