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Latrell Baker first joined Girl Scout Troop 172 in Roxboro after overcoming challenges and moving from Durham four years ago.
According to Baker, joining Troop 172 has helped her blossom into a stronger and more independent person.
Baker is currently 13 years old and attends Southern Middle School.
Before joining Girl Scouts, Baker was the frequent target of bullies – so much so that she had difficulty forming close relationships with others in her school.
Many days, it became hard for her to break out a smile due to the verbal and physical attacks she faced.
“Once in a while someone would come over to me and put me down. If I could go back and show them everything that I have done (for myself) after they have put me down they would totally stop,” Baker said.
While living in Durham, Baker once had a classmate shove her glasses off her face, leaving a scar an inch above her eye.
“She has had cuts and abrasions. It started out as verbal, but she has been kicked in the back, she was kicked off and shoved off the playground equipment at school,” said her mother, Linda Baker.
According to Linda Baker, seeing her daughter come home defenseless and hurt was one of the hardest challenges she could imagine facing.
“I was furious, and if you would have asked me that 20 years ago when my older children were younger, I would have said I was furious and I was ready to kick butt. But I know that is not the way to handle things. I had to show her the right way to handle things,” said Linda Baker.
The right way for the Bakers was by asking for help.
Latrell Baker and her mother found comfort at the time by talking to the principal, administrators, law enforcement and school resource officers.
However, that wasn’t enough because the bullying didn’t stop and the Baker family decided to switch schools twice in Durham before making a home in Roxboro.
Finding a better place
“We decided we were going to find a place to go and I truly believe God brought us to Roxboro,” said Linda Baker.
Latrell Baker never imagined starting over would have such a positive impact on her life. Especially at such an early age.
“When we first moved up here, I actually never smiled unless I was really happy. Now I can’t stop smiling,” Latrell Baker said.
She is grateful to have found her home with 40 other young girls who share a love for several of the same hobbies she enjoys.
“In the four years that we have been here I have seen her self-confidence and her self-esteem go through the roof. She went from being a caterpillar to a butterfly and she has such a large extended family at this point,” Linda Baker said.
Latrell Baker has been a part of Troop 172 for the last four years and is currently ranked as a Cadet.
Girl Scouts is an international nonprofit organization that was built to help young girls develop leadership skills.
Girls can join Girls Scouts in kindergarten and are ranked as Daisies, second- and third-graders are Brownies, fourth- and fifth-graders are Juniors, sixth- through eighth-grades are Cadets, ninth- and tenth-graders are Seniors and eleventh- and twelfth-graders are Ambassadors.
Once girls have graduated they have the opportunity to become troop or level leaders.
Cookies, cookies, cookies
According to Latrell Baker, she and her mother have sat out at Smoky Dave’s selling Girl Scout cookies rain or shine every Saturday.
“My goal is to sell 1,500 boxes this year,” said Latrell Baker.
In two weeks she has sold 479 Girl Scout cookies out of her 1,500 boxes goal.
“We have done most of our selling at Smoky Dave’s up here in Roxboro because he is like another father to me. He has given his time and his place to us for us to go out every Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.,” she said.
The teenager has been made accountable not only for going on cookie runs, but keeping track of the boxes of cookies that she sells each day.
If the money doesn’t add up by the end of the day she is responsible for paying for all expenses out of pocket.
“They learn all kinds of goals. They set their goals on their computer on a website and they can manage their cookies on a website called Smart Cookies. They keep track of what they sell and this year she is doing a lot more than what she has in the past,” said Linda Baker.
According to her mother, the skills Latrell Baker has learned have taught her to be an independent individual and at the same time build a solid foundation for life-long friendships.
“It improves their math skills and improves their communication skills with the public. She is learning how to work with people, learning how to run a business and has to learn how to meet supply and demand,” said Linda Baker.
In the last four years Latrell Baker has became thoroughly involved with the community.
She is currently a member of Southern Middle School’s cheerleading squad and soccer team.
She also performs at the Kirby Theater and is an active member at Antioch Baptist Church youth group, Antioch Baptist Church choir and Southern Middle School’s chorus.