Bainbridge Scout reaches gold through service

Katie Yearous fingerprints Jamie Hampton for her Girl Scout Gold Award project. Yearous fingerprinted 583 island kids. - Courtesy Photo
Katie Yearous fingerprints Jamie Hampton for her Girl Scout Gold Award project. Yearous fingerprinted 583 island kids.
— image credit: Courtesy Photo

Inking up the digits of Bainbridge children wasn’t just an exercise in patience and stamina.

After printing 5,380 fingers during 107 hours, Katie Yearous achieved her goal and could sleep easy knowing she provided an extra measure of safety and a free service.

Her goal was simply to earn her Girl Scout Gold Award, but in the process her learning curve took an unexpected leap as she learned what it takes to become a leader within her community.

Yearous, 18, earned the highest achievement in Girl Scouts through her “Fingerprinting Bainbridge Youth” project, in which she provided 583 free fingerprint identification cards to parents in case of a lost or abducted child. The prestigious award is obtained by an estimated 5.4 percent of eligible Girl Scouts between 14 and 18 years old, according to Girl Scouts of America.

Yearous began her project with children in mind. Through early child care classes she learned families are recommended to have fingerprints readily available. Her goal was to fingerprint 500 kids.

Ted Rought, a senior clerk for the Bainbridge Island Police Department, trained Yearous in proper fingerprinting techniques and gave her an official police department endorsement. From there, Yearous ventured out into the community, where she hoped parents would clamor for her free service. It wasn’t quite that easy.

“I tried calling different schools, churches and preschools to tell them about my project,” said Yearous. “But I had little success at first.”

The project gained speed when Yearous, with a nudge from her mother, used the name of a woman well-connected in the community for introductions to her many contacts. But Yearous still had lessons to learn in communicating with adults, and also how to accept rejection when she was ignored.

“It was frustrating sometimes when I would try and explain my project briefly and [parents] would walk past me,” said Yearous. “But I loved seeing the kids’ faces because they wanted to show everybody. They thought fingerprinting was fun.”

Yearous worked at a local child care center to raise money to cover the $306.20 in project expenses. She set up booths at community events and trained volunteers to help in the fingerprinting.

After her project was completed in December, she donated her supplies to a local insurance agent to continue fingerprinting children through his line of work.

“Yearous is truly an incredible person, and this project demonstrates her perseverance and hard work,” said Lydia Harrison, an owner of an educational services company who served as the project advisor for Yearous. “Katie had to go out there and coordinate volunteers, talk to the business community and initiate and explain her objective. I don’t think many people realize how difficult it was for her to put herself out there.”

Yearous will head to Linfield College in McMinnville, Ore., this fall to begin her pursuit of a degree in elementary education.

“I’ve always been a follower,” said Yearous. “But with this project I learned how to step up.”

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