Staff Report

Nicole Bastanchury, a senior at Santa Ynez Valley Union High School and a member of local Troop 50173, has earned her Gold Award, the highest achievement in Girl Scouting.

For her Gold Award project, Nicole created a multi-tiered sewing project called “Back to the Basics,” to introduce the “lost art” of sewing to both girls and boys while paying tribute to her grandmother, who is a member of a sewing circle.

The aim was to create beautiful dresses that were then donated to local homeless shelters, as well as internationally for those in need.

Nicole started by collecting new and gently used pillowcases for a workshop she hosted last summer at The Creation Station in Buellton. The workshop was intended to teach both girls and boys basic sewing skills. Community volunteers taught the students how to hand-sew buttons and use a basic stitch on a sewing machine to create dresses from the pillowcases collected.

“I had a lot of support from my family, my friends, and my two other sister troops,” Nicole said.

The goal was to make 150 dresses to be donated. In all, 159 dresses were donated to the Little Dresses for Africa Organization (LDFAO), Transition House in Santa Barbara, and victims of Hurricane Harvey in Texas. Sending the dresses to Texas was not part of the original plan, but she said she was extremely happy to know she could play a small part in helping those affected by the natural disaster.

“My Gold Award project was aimed to help those less fortunate than myself,” Nicole said.  “I wanted young girls to have an item of clothing that can define their personalities and improve their confidence. I hope that each time the girls wear their dress, it puts a smile on their faces.

“Not only did my project help these girls, but we were also able to reuse pillowcases that would be thrown away, and instead create beautiful dresses from them,” she added. “I also wanted to bring back the lost trade of sewing, by hand and machine. Being able to teach young girls and boys sewing is something they can take with them in the future.”

The Girl Scout Gold Award is a national award with high standards to elevate a girl’s leadership skills, creativity, and efforts to make the world a better place. Earning the Gold Award requires spending at least 80 hours planning and implementing a challenging, large-scale project that is innovative, engages others, and has a lasting impact on its targeted community.

The prestigious award recognizes Senior and Ambassador Girl Scouts — girls in ninth through 12th grades — for outstanding accomplishments in leadership, community service, career planning and personal development.

“This entire process has been so rewarding,” Nicole added.

Nationwide, only 6 percent of all eligible Girl Scouts achieve the Gold Award. Approximately one million Girl Scouts have earned their Gold Award or its equivalent since 1916. Girls who earn their Girl Scout Gold Award automatically enter the military one rank higher and qualify for college scholarships and additional national service awards.

For more information on Girl Scouts, visit