Girl Scout Troop 12022 Celebrated Hoboken Heroes For Bronze Award Project

Aida M. Toro
Jun 23, 2018 1:03 PM

On June 21, Girl Scout Troop 12022 of Hoboken debuted a documentary celebrating the city’s heroes. The film was aired at the Hoboken Historical Museum.The Girl Scout Troop created the film for their Bronze Award project, which is the highest honor a Girl Scout Junior can achieve. In order to earn the Bronze Award, each girl is required to work at least 20 hours. In Troop 12022, some of the girls worked up to 30 hours in the past year. “The girls spoke with several people in Hoboken to see what sorts of projects were needed,” said Troop Leader, Valerie Sessa. “They spoke with then mayor, Dawn Zimmer, and Jennifer Gonzalez, Chief Sustainability Officer, and her team.”Sessa mentioned that the girls also spoke with John Carey from the American Legion. While they spoke to Carey, one of the girls mentioned that she had a grandfather in the airforce and loved to hear his stories. The other girls realized that they either had a family member or friend of the family in the military and liked to hear their stories. After all the realizations, the idea for the project was born and the rest is history. “Why not speak with Hoboken veterans, collect their stories and share them with the broader public,” said Sessa. “It took the girls six months to create the 20-minute video. The process consisted of reaching out to the American Legion Post to identify veterans who wanted to share their stories of service from World War II to the present.“We relied on Joe Mindak and John Carey from the American Legion,” said Sessa. “We asked them for suggestions. We were looking to cover wars from WWII to present, different arms of the military, and both men and women.”Sessa stated that John Avino, a local writer, and director who has worked in both theater and film volunteered to help the girls out with the project. Avino led the girls through workshops on how to create documentaries. The girls learned about all the steps in pre-production, production, and post-production. “Then he helped the girls along the way, meeting with “the talent”, interviewing, videoing, editing. The girls did the work while he mentored and coached,” she said. “ In addition, Melissa Abernathy at the Hoboken Historical Museum led them through a workshop of public relations and how to write a press release. Then she sat with them and together they crafted the press release.” The stories the veterans told were emotional, comforting, entertaining, and painful at times. The veterans truthfully spoke about their service and the memories they appreciated from that time. The four veterans included in the film are Daniel Sudler, a US Marine who served in Afghanistan and Iraq; Mark Villamar, a US Army veteran who served in Vietnam; Rose Orozco, a civilian nurse who served with USAID in Vietnam; and Vincent Wassman, a WWII and Korean War Navy veteran. Each of their stories contains:

  •      Brief respites during long stints in the field
  •       Living communistically, by sharing food, during a war against communism
  •       Dodging bullets during the Tet Offensive and learning to do various things the Vietnamese way
  •       Traveling on a troop transport ship across the Atlantic through storms and torpedoes – and how Frank Sinatra was booed by soldiers for cutting ahead of a line of draftees for the Korean War

The girls in Troop 12022 hosted their reception at the Hoboken Historical Museum since they enjoyed a reception they attended in the fall when other local Girl Scouts presented their Silver Award project. “The girls in our troop loved it and made a goal to have their own reception at the Hoboken Historical Museum, open to the public, to debut their film,” said Sessa. “ We are thrilled when the Hoboken Historical Museum was supportive in allowing this dream of theirs to come to fruition.”“I feel good because we got to know people we probably wouldn’t have gotten to know any other way,” said Caitlin Fung, Girl Scout of Troop 12022 and Sessa’s daughter. “I think it was an honor to meet Vinny (Vincent Wassman, US Navy, WWII and Korean War), the man I interviewed. He was a really nice person.”The girls of Troop 12022 involved in the project were: Stav AmirArza BhallaTeagan ClarkDalia DuranCaitlin FungNarina GirotraSasha GolubchikMegan GrooCharlotte LasagaKelsi ModderSienna Nemeth-SzerdalRuby PeshtimaldjianCaitlyn PowellPenny PrestonAll the proceeds from the event's admissions were donated to the American Legion Post 107, which is currently raising funds to build a new home for the post with six apartments for homeless veterans.

Aida M. Toro
Aida is a journalist with a passion for gastronomy, fashion, and fitness. She was born and raised in Hudson County and enjoys writing pieces that inspire the residents of the communities in the county. Aida has a BA in Journalism from NJCU and has been published by well-known publications such as North (The Bergen Record),, and The Girls Soccer Network. Aside from being a journalist, Aida enjoys cooking paleo recipes and working out at the Crossfit box she’s a member of.