Henriquez’s Heart: Senior organizes service project

Girl Scout shares love for special needs community in pursuit of Gold Award


Photos Courtesy of Jasmine Henriquez

A collage shows senior Jasmine Henriquez as she delivers donations to the Folsom Elementary Life Skills class. Henriquez put this service project together for her Girl Scout Gold Award. “I just love special needs kids,” Henriquez said. “They make my heart explode. They bring me so much happiness. I wanted to contribute something to them, and I wanted them to feel happy and loved.”

In the Life Skills classroom, senior Jasmine Henriquez and teacher Stephanie Cross work together. Henriquez delivered donations to the classroom. “Jasmine came to me with a list of materials and items she thought would be useful, and then together we brainstormed a few more ideas,” Cross said. “She worked on her own to collect all of the items and then hand-delivered them to my students.” (Photo Courtesy of Jasmine Henriquez)

Senior Jasmine Henriquez’s mother dedicated her life to raising awareness and donations for her non-profit foundation.

Now, Henriquez follows in her footsteps, as she created her own service project to benefit students in the Folsom Elementary Life Skills class.

Henriquez created her service project as a part of the Girl Scout’s Gold Award, where she organized and donated supplies to the class Tuesday, Feb. 22. In her project, Henriquez worked with non-profit organizations and the local Parent Resource Center to gain donations. In April, she will pair with the center again to organize an Easter Egg hunt for anyone from the special needs community.

“For the special needs classes at Folsom Elementary, the parents and the teachers contribute to adding more supplies for the kids,” Henriquez said. “I created this idea for care packages, and it was one big box of toys, learning supplies, hand sanitizer, wipes, anything.”

Henriquez was inspired to create this project by her younger brother, Dominic Henriquez, who was diagnosed with Hunter’s Syndrome.

In a bag, cards and teddy bears rest. A local junior Girl Scout troop made the cards. Every student received a card and a teddy bear. (Photo Courtesy of Jasmine Henriquez)

“The special needs community is something I feel very strong and connected with since my brother is also special needs,” Henriquez said. “Before he went to Rushing Middle School, he was previously in that classroom with that teacher and those kids. I wanted to do something specifically for them, and then continue growing it to all of the elementary schools in the district.”

Henriquez’s mom, Jeannette Henriquez, founded a non-profit organization called the Hunter Syndrome Foundation. The foundation organizes an annual Dancing with Dominic fundraiser to raise money via donations. Henriquez helped with that effort for her Girl Scout’s Silver Award.

“I had to put 50 hours of community service for that award, and just setting up the entire event, making the centerpieces, the food combinations,” Henriquez said. “The foundation had some leftover sensory toys from the event that they donated to me to use.”

For this latest project, Henriquez reached out to the Life Skills teacher, Stephanie Cross, and, together, they brainstormed the items that Henriquez should donate. Then, she spent five hours gathering donations at Walmart, Target, The Dollar Store and Amazon. She also worked with the local junior Girl Scout troop.

I love how truly caring Jasmine is. She sees an issue that needs to be addressed, and she has the care to help in any way that she can.

— Senior Girl Scout Dylan Buchmiller

“The whole reason for the Gold Award is to expand it, and continue it throughout the future,” Henriquez said. “I paired up with the troop, and they helped me make cards for the teachers and the students. I talked to them and asked if they could build this up and eventually have it grow.”

The troop first met with Henriquez last April, as she told them about her project. After she graduates in May, the troop will continue to expand her project throughout the district.

Henriquez said her favorite moment from the experience was seeing a student’s reaction when she gave him a card and superhero teddy bear.

Jasmine is such a kind and thoughtful young lady. Watching her work tirelessly brought tears to my eyes.

— Stephanie Cross

“I gave him the card, and I was like, ‘You’re a rockstar. You’re awesome. You’re a superhero,'” Henriquez said. “He started jumping up and down and running around the classroom with happiness. It made my heart so happy.”

Each student received a card and teddy bear, and each teacher received a thank you card and gift card.

“I just love special needs kids,” Henriquez said. “They make my heart explode. They bring me so much happiness. I wanted to contribute something to them, and I wanted them to feel happy and loved.”

In April, senior Jasmine Henriquez stands with a local junior Girl Scout troop. The troop helped Henriquez on her service project. After Henriquez leaves for college, the troop members said they will continue to expand the project. (Photo Courtesy of Jasmine Henriquez)