At first, Alivia McGuire didn’t believe she could complete such a big project on her own.
After all, no girl in her community had ever done anything like this before!
But she knew it could show God’s love to her community so she stepped out in faith.
Alivia had joined American Heritage Girls as a young girl. The organization was critical to her growth as a teenager and as a young woman.
American Heritage Girls (AHG) is a ministry dedicated to “changing girls’ lives and leading them towards a more Christ-centered life.”
It’s a faith-based, scouting-style character development program for girls and young women around the country and across the world.
Much like the Girl Scouts, AHG offers badge programs, service projects, leadership opportunities, and outdoor experiences for girls of all backgrounds and interests.
But, unlike Girl Scouts, AHG emphasizes Christian values and family involvement. The organization recognizes the value of outdoor experiences and service programs to stimulate spiritual growth above all.
Alivia had benefitted from AHG’s programs and opportunities all throughout her childhood and young adult years. She’d completed multiple service projects as an American Heritage Girl, but now she wanted to tackle her biggest one yet.
Alivia had the chance to earn the coveted Stars and Stripes Award. This award, granted to girls who want to pursue experience in servant leadership, “teaches girls perseverance, self-respect, and a strong feeling of satisfaction.”
“The goal of the Stars and Stripes Award is the experience and the realization of a servant’s heart that is needed to lead with integrity and humility,” AHG writes.
“The award procedure and the project blesses a candidate’s community and develops her skills in organization, communication, time management, and project management.”
For her service project, Alivia chose to build a run-in shelter for horses at a local therapeutic riding center, Shangra-la Therapeutic Academy of Riding (S.T.A.R.).
“This project was incredibly big,” Alivia shared. “No girl had ever built a run-in shed for S.T.A.R. before.”
It was easy for Alivia to be intimidated by the prospect.
“I was initially apprehensive about my ability to do it at all, but God taught me that being a leader does not mean that I have to do everything alone,” she realized.
Alivia was well prepared for the project by her experiences in AHG. She had already learned how to lead groups, set goals, and pursue God’s will in everything she did, and building the shed was a chance to take those skills further.
But she also learned brand new skills—like how to be flexible when her plans changed!
Her original plan for the project fell through once she had talked to S.T.A.R. staff and determined the funds available for the shed. But Alivia persevered and kept going, revising her goals to meet the needs at S.T.A.R.
“Although my plans changed quite a bit, I did grow spiritually from this experience!” Alivia admitted. “There were many times I had to put my faith into action, because I truly did not believe I could do this without God’s help.”
“He came through on my behalf every time, and I am so grateful for what He has done for me!” she continued.
The Stars and Stripes Award project was a transformative experience for Alivia, who’s now a more confident leader and a more committed servant of God.
“Completing the Stars and Stripes Award project helped me realize that faith in God can truly move mountains!” she shared.
Alivia added that AHG helped her to pursue radical spiritual growth throughout the formative years of her life.
“[These were] some of the best years of my life, when I was learning how to be a woman that truly loved the Lord and loved others!”
That’s the goal of all the programs in AHG: “building women of integrity through service to God, family, community, and country.”
And the organization has done it well! Girls from all over the world testify to the ministry’s effectiveness in encouraging their growth as women, as servant leaders, and as daughters of God.
Young women like Alivia cherish their years in AHG and fondly remember the values and skills they learned through service projects, badge programs, and outdoor experiences.