Edgewater senior wins community spirit award

She is honored for work helping to get boutique and training center for women built

February 17, 2011|By Joe Burris, The Baltimore Sun

Christina Antonini of Edgewater is part of a Girl Scout troop that came up with an unusual way to give to the community — spending six years designing, financing and building a boutique and job training center at a rehabilitation facility for low-income women.

For her efforts to help lead the project, Antonini recently won a Prudential Spirit of Community Award, which recognizes youths committed to making an impact in their community or beyond.

In its 16th year, the Prudential program honors 102 students, two from each state and the District of Columbia.

Antonini said she relishes what she learned by helping the Chrysalis House, a Crownsville-based substance abuse treatment center for women and their children.

"It gave me a new way of looking at people and learning about what other people have done, and it taught me how to reach my goals," said Antonini, 18, a senior Girl Scout who attends the Severn School in Severna Park.

The state's other honoree is Sareana Kimia, 12, of Bethesda, who prepared meals for children at a temple in India last year.

They will each receive a $1,000 award and an expenses-paid trip to Washington this spring for the program's national recognition events. In addition, two of the recipients from around the country will be named the top youth volunteers for 2011.

Antonini and three other members of Girl Scout Troop 913 in Anne Arundel County helped to raise about $100,000 in funding and donations for a thrift store and job-training center on the grounds of Chrysalis House.

Called the Butterfly Boutique, the 1,700-square-foot thrift store opened last year and features clothing, artwork, books, jewelry and other items. Antonini also donated some items, as did her mother, Linda Antonini, the troop leader. The Butterfly Boutique offers job-training and small-business skills to those at the treatment facility.

The boutique also features a mural created by Christina Antonini, a multicolored painting of the transformation of a caterpillar to a butterfly.

"I love to paint, and I decided, 'Why not do something inside [the boutique] as well?'" said Antonini, who learned about applying for the Prudential Award while searching for college scholarships. "Since the Chrysalis House was [a rehabilitation center for] drugs and alcohol, you start as a caterpillar, and like the stages of the butterfly, do the stages of rehabilitation. The caterpillar is the dark stages, the chrysalis is when they're rebuilding their lives and the butterfly is when they come out of the house."

Said Linda Antonini: "Christina is one of these kids that once she commits to something, she follows through. She had a lot of ideas to making [the boutique] better, and she worked side by side with the ladies of the Chrysalis House."

Throughout the six-year process of building the Butterfly Boutique, Antonini has remained a Girl Scout, though many of her friends left the group during middle school. Antonini, who hopes to study nursing after graduation, said that finishing the project was among the reasons she stayed with Girl Scouts.

"We had this project in sixth grade, and … I said, 'I want to finish it, because it's a big thing,'" said Antonini. "I'm so glad I did it."

"It went from an idea from a shack to a building, and we thought we weren't going to finish it," she said. "It took six years. Sometimes I said, 'Is this really going to happen?' But we finally got through."


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