NORTHVALE, N.J. — Northvale Girl Scout Gabrielle Visconi has earned her Girl Scout Gold Award through a pet therapy program she launched this year at the James F. McGuire Memorial Senior Citizens’ Center.
The longtime Girl Scout Troop No. 701 member was inspired to take on the project because of her grandfather — who suffered from depression.
“When my family and I bring our dog to (my grandfather’s) house, he becomes instantly happy," Visconi said in the press release.
"I knew that if one dog could make one person happy, an entire program could make many people happy."
The Girl Scout Gold Award is the highest award a Girl Scout can earn and requires the completion of a leadership project of at least 80 hours, the press release says.
Visconi was also inspired by the Animal Assisted Therapy program at Morristown Medical Center, which uses animals — especially dogs — to help patients who suffer from depression or are healing from injuries, the press release says.
“Seeing a pet, whether it is a dog, cat, or a hamster, makes people happy," Visconi said.
"I thought bringing a pet therapy program to my local senior center would be a great way to bring happiness to the senior citizens in my community, many of whom are lonely.
"It was great to lighten up the senior center room with wagging tails and happy faces.”