The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

June 15, 2014

Julia Fink receives highest Girl Scout honor

When Julia Fink was just 9-years-old she was abused by someone she loved and trusted and now she is using her experience to raise awareness and help others.

Saturday, Fink received her Gold Award for Girl Scouts for her project on child abuse awareness. The Gold Award is the highest honor a Girl Scout can receive.

Fink chose to focus her project on child abuse awareness because of her own experience.

Fink was abused by her father.

“My dad told me it was normal and not to tell anyone,” she said.

Fink’s father was convicted of rape and other charges and is still in prison. Fink underwent counseling, with her mother by her side through it all.

It has not been an easy thing to overcome and it didn’t happen overnight, she said.

“Even though he went to prison, the effects of what he did to me did not go away,” Fink said.

As time went on, with the support of her mom and Girl Scouts, Fink has persevered and has come out stronger in the end.

Fink decided her Gold Award project would be a great opportunity to help other people who may be victims of child abuse as well as to raise awareness for the growing problem.

It takes about two to three years to complete the Gold Award. There is a lot of prior badge work as well as training that must be completed before approval for the award.

Fink knew she wanted to focus on child abuse awareness for her project and finally keyed in on prevention as the main focus.

She contacted Ashtabula County Children Services, which has been involved in the project since its conception.

Fink designed display boards that are put out in all Ashtabula County libraries during the month of April for Child Abuse Awareness Month. The project had to be sustainable, so Children Services has agreed to take over and put her displays out each year.

Fink also completed a number of side projects and fundraising efforts for the project, but they also served as another opportunity to raise awareness.

Each year, the second Wednesday in April, serves as Wear Blue to Work Day, for child abuse awareness. Last year, Fink went above and beyond that and recruited the entire student body at Pymatuning Valley High School to wear blue.

Fink also served as the guest speaker at the Children Services It Takes a Community Luncheon last year. She has since spoken at area churches and Rotary meetings to share her story. Fink was also invited to Columbus with the CEO of Girl Scouts to represent her council and speak about her project to a group of female legislators.

Fink said the project has taught her a lot of leadership and organizational skills as well as enabled her to adapt to situations as they come about.

“I’ve met a lot of really great women through the whole thing,” she said.

A 2013 Pymatuning High School graduate, Fink has just completed her first year at Thiel College, where she is studying mathematics and has plans to be an actuary.

Kathy Schuller, one of Fink’s Girl Scout leaders, said whatever Fink goes after, she accomplishes.

“She doesn’t let her past get in the way,” she said. “She has persevered.”

Schuller said other people may have just given up in the situation Fink was in.

For Fink, giving up was never an option. It’s something her mother, Elizabeth said she would never allow.

“She’s a go-getter,” Schuller said. “She sees the good in everything and everybody.

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