Standing Up: Keeping a Promise and Being a Leader
Change Maker Sponsor - United Way of Greater Toledo

Standing Up: Keeping a Promise and Being a Leader

United Way fights for the education, health and financial stability of every person in Lucas, Wood and Ottawa County.

This post is brought to you by the generous support of KeyBank. As one of the nation's largest financial service companies, KeyBank prides itself on taking a relationship-based approach, with a commitment to helping clients and communities thrive.


I’m a Girl Scout, or, as we say when in meetings: a G.I.R.L. — Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader. I’ve said this phrase over and over again, but never realized the impact of these words until the day I met Marah.

Marah started at Grove Patterson Elementary about halfway through my eighth grade year. She is a refugee from Aleppo, Syria, and I was assigned to show her around school and introduce her to some of my classmates.

I grew up friends with most of the other girls in my eighth grade class. Most of them I’ve known since kindergarten. But Marah was different; she was new and from an unfamiliar place.

Yet, walking around with her that first day, we discovered that we had a lot in common. We both were super tall, we liked polka dots on everything and loved musicals, so I told her about our school's upcoming play auditions. I had never connected with someone so quickly.

When I was in elementary, there weren’t “right” friends or “wrong” friends. My friends and I call these times the “la-di-da days.” Like, la-di-da, everything’s good, everyone’s great, la-di-da! Skipping along to the rhythm, not a care in the world. As I grew older, this changed. It started to feel like I did have to care--especially about who I was and wasn’t hanging out with.

The pressure to fit in with a group of friends grew as quickly as I grew in height!

That first day with Marah, I remember sitting in the cafeteria at lunch, 2018-08-22 GIRL-SCOUTS-STANDING-UPtelling her about which teachers I liked and, of course, which ones you had to be careful of. A girl I used to hang out with (way back in the la-di-da days) walked by with a group of her friends and stopped at our table. She ignored my polite “hello” and, to my surprise, pulled her cardigan over the top of her head, cruelly imitating Marah’s headscarf.

I’d never experienced that uncomfortable of a “joke” before. I couldn’t let that girl get away with treating others so terribly. And that’s when the Girl Scout words came back to me.

G.I.R.L.= Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader. Everything we do inside my Girl Scout Troop is about becoming those things outside the program. We also talked a lot about how to deal with conflict, like bullying.

At first, I wanted to throw an insult back in her face, pick on something about how she talked or dressed. At first, I wanted to splash my drink in her face and tell her to “shut up!” But that’s not what Girl Scouts do.

When I joined Girl Scouts, I made a promise to help people at all times and be a good person.

Girl Scouts are courageous and strong. We do our best to respect ourselves and others. Sometimes that means not reacting to the haters in this world. In that moment, I needed to quit skipping to the old la-di-da rhythm and create a new beat.

I turned away from the girl I used to be friends with, and looked at the others in the group. “Girls, this is Marah. We’re going to try out for the play next week. Who’s going with us?”


CHANGE MAKER ACTION: Because of your support, United Way of Greater Toledo and our strong corporate partners, like KeyBank, are able to invest in Girl Scout programming, which empowers young females to become leaders and innovators here in our community.

United Way Toledo Donate Button

*This blog post is fictional but based on a real success story submitted by Girl Scouts of Western Ohio. All identities of submitted success stories are anonymous for privacy and story details have been added in order to provide a better understanding of the individual’s personal successes and struggles.

Return to Blog Home
Subscribe! Never miss a story!


Leaving Isolation: Finding Empowerment Among Your Peers

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

I came to school at 18, and to keep the story short, didn’t go back home. That was an important year for me, as I transitioned into the individual I was in my mind and heart. This was an isolating process for me.

read more

Finding Superhero Powers: Early Education Support for both Parents and Children

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Looking at my sweet son Jamile pretending to be superhero as he “flies” across the lawn, one would never suspect he has a learning disability. Yet he does. And, if anyone understands what this hurdle is like it’s me...

read more

The Promise: A Mother’s Fight to Protect Her Child, and Herself

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

I had believed that part of our lives to be forever behind us. Believed that a thing like arriving home one day to find your abusive ex waiting for you was the stuff of movies… But I was wrong.

read more


  • Education