A new memorial planned for Tasker Park in Peconic will pay tribute to two young lives lost too soon.
This spring, as part of their Bronze Award project, Girl Scout Troop 261 will install a two-person swinging bench with a brick-outlined base at the community park, as well as two trees and plantings.
The project will memorialize Morgan West, who died at age 9 in 2018 after a six-and-a-half-year battle with diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, a highly aggressive brain tumor, and Amber Stulsky, who was 10 when she died in a car crash at Route 48 and Chapel Lane the night before she would have started fifth grade at Southold Elementary.
Around a table at the Southold Town Recreation Center in Peconic last Thursday, the girls of Troop 261 remembered their peers — Amber for her timid, sweet personality and the way she’d add purple or blue streaks to her shoulder-length hair, and Morgan for her courage and shared love of Winnie the Pooh.
“Amber was a really sweet girl,” Vanessa Jimenez, 10, said of her friend, who had moved to a new school district last year.
“After she moved, we weren’t as connected, but we were still friends,” added Katherine Meringer, also 10.
Troop co-leader Courtney Meringer of Mattituck, Katherine’s mother, said Amber was a member of Troop 261 and the fifth-graders knew they wanted to honor their friends when they began brainstorming for the Bronze Award project. “It was hard for them,” she said. “This is a way they could give back, have a little place to go and sit, reflect and remember the girls,” Ms. Meringer said. “We are really proud of them.”
The memorial will be placed between the playground and tennis courts at Tasker Park and the troop is working with Southold Town on the installation, Ms. Meringer said.
The girls will build the project themselves, with a little bit of guidance from Ms. Meringer’s builder husband, Amos, and Morgan’s dad, Adam, who is a woodworker by trade and offered to help.
“We had no idea that the Girl Scouts were planning this, so when we heard about their project we were blown away,” Morgan’s mom, Nikki, said in an interview. “We love the idea of kids supporting other kids with acts of kindness and, in this case, an act of friendship, love and support. This was such an amazing reminder that Morgan may be gone but she is definitely not forgotten,” she said, adding that Morgan loved playing at Tasker Park.
The troop is running a fundraiser until the end of March to support their project, selling 8-inch-square bricks for $50 each. The bricks can be personalized with a name, message or memory of a loved one. “It invites the community to be a part of the project,” Ms. Meringer said.
She said the troop has already received an outpouring of support from people who want to purchase bricks, as well as from local landscaping businesses that are willing to donate flowers, plants and trees.
The Bronze Award is the troop’s first major milestone and the highest honor junior Girl Scouts can receive.
The girls hope the new spot will be a peaceful way to make sure that Morgan and Amber are not forgotten.
“They’d sit on the bench, think about them and reflect,” said troop member Morgan Dunne.
“I hope people will enjoy it, and maybe read a book on it,” added fellow Scout Victoria Winter. “When they see the plaques, hopefully they’d think of their memories.”
For more information and to purchase a brick, visit thatsmybrick.com/gst0261.