It’s a major award, but for Bryn Hammock it’s also a family tradition.
The senior at Mill Creek High School was recently recognized for her efforts with the highest honor from Girl Scouts of the USA — joining her mother and grandmother in earning the Gold Award.
Hammock, a fourth-generation Girl Scout, received the coveted honor, considered the equivalent to a Boy Scout earning Eagle Scout laurels, for making nearly 150 bead-filled fabric gloves (or “Tiny Hugs”) for babies in newborn intensive care units (NICU) in Gwinnett area hospitals.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Hammock said. “I’ve been working on this for so long — a full year.”
Leslie Gilliam, communications advisor for the Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta, said that the gloves mimic the hands of a baby’s parents when gently placed against the baby’s body. She added that when used, the gloves have been shown to regulate the baby’s heartbeat and lead to a decrease in Apnea and Bradycardia episodes.
Sherry Domah, a registered nurse who works in the NICU at Northside Gwinnett Hospital, served as Hammock’s Gold Award project advisor and Alyce James as her Gold Award coach.
Domah said she plans to continue making the gloves for the hospital through her company — Pumpkin’s Sew ‘N Sew.
“We were so thrilled to get the gloves for our tiny patients,” Domah said. “Our babies are able to thrive and have increased development with these weighted hands. Due to COVID-19, parents can only see their babies for two hours a day. These gloves help nurture the babies when their parents can’t be there.
“Bryn’s project and effort way exceeded my expectations. The quality of the weighted fabric hands will be used for years to come. She has made such a difference.”
Chris Brittingham said the gloves were a blessing when his daughter Navika spent time in the NICU after she was born.
“Weighing just over a pound when she was born, Tiny Hugs helped Navika feel safe while she was in the NICU,” he said. “Now that she’s older, she loves using them for tummy time.”
“It feels really great to know all these babies are getting all the help that they need and I think that in the long run it will help them, and it feels good to know I helped,” Hammock said.
One of the unique parts of Hammock’s project is the fact that she’s the third person in her family to earn the Gold Award. Her grandmother Deanna Simmons received the Curved Bar Award (as the Gold Award was known as at the time) in the early 1960s and Bryn’s mother Kelley Hammock won the award in the early 1990s.
“I think it’s rare and exciting to have three generations of high awards from Scouting,” Kelley Hammock said. “I’m so proud of Bryn for continuing the family tradition. She worked hard on this project and learned a lot about leadership.
“I’m happy for all she accomplished in Scouts. The friends she has made and the experiences she’s enjoyed from Scouting have been a very rewarding part of her childhood.”
“I’m proud of her,” Simmons said. “Her mom won the Gold Award and what I earned wasn’t the Gold Award – it was called the Curved Bar.
“We’ve got three generations of high awards for Girls Scouts, which is really cool. My other daughter Kathryn got her Gold Award and my son Scott got his Eagle, so we believe in the Scouting program. My grandsons are in Scouts, too, working toward their Eagle, I hope. It’s a good program. It teaches leadership skills and branching out and trusting yourself.”
Earning the Gold Award is quite an achievement in and of itself, but Hammock’s distinction is even more profound given that such accomplishment runs in her family.
“It feels good to follow in their footsteps,” Hammock said. “Maybe one day my daughter will get it, then we’ll have a whole bunch of generations that did it. I will encourage my children to get involved in Scouting.”
“So many Gold Award projects in a family is impressive and quite rare,” Gilliam said. “Only 6% of Girl Scouts earn our highest honor, so this accomplishment takes real dedication. We are honored that four generations of the family have found a home in Girl Scouts, volunteering and serving their community along the way. They’re an inspiration.”
Gold Award recipients can always look back at their projects with memories of triumphs and great tests, and Hammock is no different, as when she began the “Tiny Hugs” project she had yet to learn how to sew.
“The sewing was a lot because I had to figure out how to sew by myself and fix the machine and everything,” Hammock said. “But honestly, the paperwork was just as big a challenge – it took so long, but I finally got it all done.”
“We had some tears here and there, but it all worked out,” Simmons said. “These kids are so busy these days and they can get overwhelmed sometimes. But Bryn did a good job and learned a few things along the way, which is great. It was a good project.
“She didn’t know how to sew or anything. During COVID, we didn’t see each other much and trying to teach her how to sew over FaceTime was interesting and hilarious. But she did good – she learned how to thread it and work the bobbins. She learned some good skills that will stay with her and that’s what it’s all about.”
In addition to her participation in Girl Scouts, Hammock serves as an athletic trainer at Mill Creek and holds membership in the school’s National Honor Society, Beta Club, HOSA – Future Health Professionals and TALON, a leadership program at the school. She also plays club soccer for the Gwinnett Soccer Association and swims for the Hidden Falls Rapids, where she also is an assistant coach, in the Gwinnett County Swim League.
When asked if she had any other pending big projects on her to-do list, Hammock said, “I’m mainly going to focus on school, try to get all A’s and graduate.”