Carmel Valley-based Girl Scout Troop 1224 recently completed a heartfelt room renovation with the non-profit Cecily’s Closet for a teenager with special needs. The girls overhauled the bedroom of Vesna Vasich, an 18-year-old who has Down’s Syndrome, creating a bright and pretty space all her own.
Led by troop leaders Kelly Wesseln and Dahlia Jabro, the troop of girls started as Brownies in the first grade and now has seven girls across various high schools.
The troop includes Lauren Goldman, Peyton Hall, Ashley Jabro, Moriah Seymann, Abigail Shah, Gaby Shah, Juliana Valenzuela and Kayla Wesseln. The girls represent Canyon Crest Academy, Cathedral Catholic, Academy of Our Lady of Peace and San Diego Jewish Academy high schools.
Ashley said a lot of time there isn’t chances for the girls to interact as they are in different schools —Girl Scouts gives them an opportunity to all come together.
Over the last few years, the troop has established a relationship with Cecily’s Closet, a non-profit that serves children with special needs and their families in San Diego County. The organization recycles durable medical equipment and provides dream room makeovers. The troop had previously been involved with Cecily’s Closet by making “belly bands” for children with feeding tubes.
Cecily’s Closet gave the girls a $1,500 budget for the room renovation and Lauren managed the funding and organized each girl’s responsibilities.
The troop got to know Vesna a little bit when they went to clean out her room. As Kayla said, they got an idea that she was a One Direction fan from the posters and pictures on her wall, but they interviewed her to find out more about what she was looking for in her new room and what her favorite colors were.
Vesna’s mother passed away and while her father Branko and brother Vaso have done an excellent job taking care of her, Juliana said it was obvious her room needed a “feminine touch.”
Peyton said the troop spent about two months planning the renovation, including cleaning, buying all of the items and the installation.
“For me the hardest part was finding things that I thought would fit her personality,” Peyton said. “We wanted to give her a room that transitioned into adulthood.”
The girls picked out paint color, selected and assembled furniture and came up with décor ideas like making a wreath of Vesna’s family photos. Vesna never really had a working space before and the area she had was very cluttered — they were excited about giving her a desk where she could keep all of her things organized and have a place to work,
“My favorite part of the room was the new curtains because I think it looked really nice when the light was able to come into her room, it sort of creates a whole new atmosphere,” said Juliana. “I thought by having the light, it was sort of just like an awakening for her, that she gets to enter into this whole new life.”
Kayla’s favorite was the new paint color, a soft blue-green hue called “Jaded Clouds.” The painter told the troop that every time someone walks into that room, they’re going to have a big smile on their face because it’s such a happy color.
When the girls did the room reveal after they completed their work on April 30, they had Vesna walk in with her eyes closed.
“She seemed really happy as she looked around and really liked it,” Moriah said. “She was kind of in shock.”
On Snapchat and Facebook posts with troop members, she raved: “I’m in my new room and I love it!” Her father Branko wants to plan a barbecue with the troop to thank them for the special gift to his daughter.
“I feel it’s very important to give back to the community,” Juliana said. “There are so many really kind people around us that we get to have as role models and I know that they do so much for us. It’s really nice we can help out in a way that we can possibly become role models for others as wel