Room with a Vision
Local Girl Scout turned Navy Seaman honors veterans with Gold Award project
By Grace Flemer
Books and boats are a huge part of Tanner Laizure’s life.
Laizure, a recent graduate of Cactus Shadows High School, earned her Girl Scout Gold Award from the Girl Scouts–Arizona Cactus-Pine Council for creating a teen room full of books and other media at an apartment complex that gives priority to veterans. The Gold Award is the highest and most prestigious award a girl can earn in Girl Scouting. Girls who pursue their Gold Award aspire to transform an idea and vision for change into an actionable plan with measurable, sustainable and far-reaching results.
“My enlistment into the United States Navy and my love for books was the inspiration behind my project,” Laizure says.
The goal of Laizure’s Gold Award project was to bring awareness to the need for affordable housing for veterans and their families, especially single female veterans. To that end, she created a teen room in Valor on Eighth, an apartment complex in Tempe that gives female veterans and veterans with families first preference on moving into a unit.
After collecting and organizing donations, Laizure filled the teen room with over a thousand books, 400 DVDs, board games, art supplies, décor, ten pieces of original art and more. Laizure even expanded her project beyond her original goals by using her cookie sales money to include décor for the bathroom, as well as a pool table, air hockey table and foosball table for the veterans to enjoy on the top floor of the building.
Laura Laizure, Tanner’s mother, was also her troop leader throughout Tanner’s twelve years of Girl Scouting. She saw firsthand how Girl Scouts positively affected members of her troop, especially her own daughter. “It was very inspiring watching Tanner grow during her time as a Girl Scout and while she was working on her project,” she says. “I was honored to be on her team and simply be there to support her on her journey to earning her Gold Award. Girl Scouts has always been an important part of Tanner’s life. I am proud of Tanner for everything she has accomplished and excited to see what her future has in store for her.”
Laizure’s project generated sustainable results. The completion of the teen room and the bonus room upstairs gained social media attention and media coverage that spread awareness about the issue of affordable veteran housing to over 37,000 people. Additionally, a letter writing station was installed in the teen room for teens to write to active service members.
“Girl Scouting has helped me form lifelong connections with other girls and the amazing leaders in my council,” Laizure says. “Girl Scouts has always been a prevalent part of my life and will continue to be so in the future as I work towards becoming a lifetime member.”
It’s not just the Girl Scouts who recognize the tremendous honor of this award. The project allowed her to enter the United States Navy as a Seaman (SN), two rates higher than she would have entered without earning the Gold Award.
“She has always had a strong passion for helping others in the community, especially when it comes to military service members,” says Laizure’s mother and troop leader. “Being able to help local veterans, especially women, was the perfect project for her to take on.”
Following Basic Training at the Navy Recruit Training Command in Illinois, Laizure will continue her training for 26-30 weeks to become an Intelligence Specialist (IS). After her time with the Navy, she plans to join the police force.
“This project taught me how to work with a cohesive team and how to be a proactive leader,” Laizure says. “I learned how to be an effective advocate in my community about issues that are important to me. I will use these newfound skills as I embark on my journey with the Navy.”
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