High School Senior Leads Veterans Memorial Restoration Project
Concern over the lack of visitors to Williston’s Veterans Memorial inspired longtime Girl Scout Katherine Mathon to take action. The Champlain Valley Union High School senior has dedicated over 80 hours to improving and repairing the memorial site, earning her Girl Scout Gold Award.
A Girl Scout since kindergarten, Mathon says she became extremely concerned after learning the memorial had fallen into disrepair. “It’s very important to honor our troops and show them proper respect,” she says. “By having our memorial the way it was, in some ways, we were disrespecting them. I made sure the area was beautiful again. Our troops deserve to be remembered.” Having already earned her Bronze and Silver Awards, Mathon says she grew up admiring the passion of girls who’d gone on to obtain their Gold Award, the highest honor in Girl Scouting. “This award opened a lot of doors for them, and it was always my goal,” she added. “I wanted to push myself to help people in the community more and I knew I was capable of doing something great.”
Prior to Mathon’s efforts, the memorial, a large granite star located near Williston Town Hall, rarely attracted visitors and its surrounding site was overgrown with weeds. Working closely with Williston Town Clerk Deb Beckett, Mathon managed various phases of site improvements, including a memorial brick-lined pathway and two new benches. American Legion Williston Post 45 sponsored her project and several area businesses and community members donated $4,000 worth of materials and services. Mathon completed her project this past summer.
As Mathon looks towards the future, she remains confident that the Veterans Memorial will stay beautiful in the years to come. Working closely with her local Rotary Club, she updated the site’s maintenance plan, which outlined ongoing sales of memorial bricks. Additionally, the local cemetery commission agreed to tend to the memorial’s surrounding landscaping.
Following her successful journey to earning her Girl Scout Gold Award, Mathon now reflects on what she’s learned in the process. “I learned that I’m very good at working with all types of people,” she says, noting she often served as a moderator between business owners, town officials, landscapers, and brick installers. “This really improved my management skills,” Mathon adds. “I learned that I can accomplish anything if I push myself hard enough. I can set a goal and will go full steam ahead until it is accomplished.”
The experience will serve Mathon well in her next phase of life: college. While she hasn’t made a decision on which school she’ll attend next year, one thing is for certain: it will include opportunities to travel! Mathon, who is considering a major in international business, speaks both Spanish and Chinese, and has travelled to the Dominican Republic, France, and China. She says it was her time spent in Girl Scouts that inspired her wanderlust. “My troop leader organized so many amazing activities for us, and we’ve always loved traveling to cities around New England and Canada,” Mathon points out. Over the years, Mathon has participated in Girl Scout troop trips to Boston, Newport, Rhode Island, New York City, Ottawa, and Montreal. Most recently, Mathon and her troop members planned and attended an exciting trip to Paris.