Samaia A. Goodrich leads by extraordinary example at just 13 years old. As a student at Expeditionary Learning Middle School (ELMS) in Syracuse, NY, she has founded the Girls Loving Ourselves Worldwide (GLOW) Project, a Let Our Voices Echo (LOVE) Syracuse Initiative. She also loves giving back to her community by participating in REACH, her church’s outreach program. Outside of her immense contributions to serving her community, she enjoys playing basketball and spending time with her family and friends.
Samaia’s inspiration to pursue community service stems from her parents. She states, “I’ve been volunteering since I was in my mom’s stomach, literally.” Volunteering with her family since she was very young, she grew up with the core concepts of service in her back-pocket. Seeing people smile and letting them know that they mean something to others reminds her why she loves to serve her community. Not only does she gain inspiration from her parents and the love that the greater community gives her, but also by seeing her peers get involved and give back through her projects. “It brings so much life and light when young people make a difference together,” Samaia says.
In addition to her academics, Samaia has learned a great deal through creating service projects and participating in community service. One of the most important things she has learned is that, often, people just want to know that they are not invisible and that someone really cares. She reveals that the most impactful thing for her was when she realized that she has the ability to inspire other young people to make a difference. She shows them through her own experience that it doesn’t matter what they do or how they do it, where they live or where they come from, every little thing can make a difference. Even something as simple as helping a neighbor bring their groceries to the porch can make a positive impact on someone’s day.
Samaia obtains a lot of support from her family, friends, church members, teachers, principal and the Syracuse community. She mentions, “they believe in me and my ideas because they know that I am consistent and committed to improving my community and the world around me, and involving my peers in all that we do. That is really important, because we strengthen each other.”
As for future goals, Samaia hopes to continue playing basketball in college and eventually become an attorney. In the process, she would love to open up, build or fully sponsor the ultimate youth center and create programs for kids in the community. The most important goal to her right now, however, is to make her Girls Loving Ourselves Worldwide (GLOW) Initiative a global brand and program that will have a significant impact on the lives of black and brown girls all over the world. This will positively impact the Syracuse community as local girls will come together with girls from other communities to strengthen and encourage each other, create service projects and help promote positive images of black and brown girls everywhere. Samaia inspiringly asserts, “People will see who we are and all that we were created to be and do! I want the community and world to begin viewing youth as resources rather than problems. That is my mission right now.”
When asked if she had any advice for other youth looking to make a difference in their community, she recommends them not to let an idea they may have for creating positive change fade away. She advises them to “write it down and then share it with a positive adult in your life who can help you make it a reality. Don’t give up on yourself.” She also suggests that they ask their friends or peers to help, listen to the ideas they might have, and not to become upset if people push you to grow when they know you have what it takes to be a leader, and to remember to always take time to just be a kid and have fun.
We are honored to feature Samaia and her incredible work. We wish her luck with all her future goals and will continue to support her to achieve them because as she has already proven, it’s clear she has what it takes to be a great leader in our community!