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A Sister to Every Girl Scout

Courage, Confidence, and Character make up the core of every Girl Scout. Through friendships built in troops to fears overcome at camp, the Girl Scout Program creates a safe place for every girl to live up to her potential. Not only do girls develop their own personal courage, confidence, and character, but learn to work as a family to lift up their sister Girl Scouts.

Troop 4444 of Kewanee, Illinois, led by Jacque Komnick epitomizes the strength that can be found within a troop. The girls are incredibility involved in the community. From collecting canned goods for the homeless to cleaning up their local park, they have dispelled any stereotype that Girl Scouts just sell cookies. The Kewanee community can count on Troop 4444 for any time of need, but when a tragedy occurred within a member’s family, the troop found strength within itself to rally.

Cathy, a parent of Megan, Ashley, and Bethany of Troop 4444 was battling cancer. Cathy was the kind of person that would do anything for anyone. She was the ultimate snack mom and became just as involved in Girl Scouts as her daughters. Although Cathy had become ill and was unable to participate as much as usual, her girls still attended every Girl Scout function.

During a Girl Scout game night, Megan, the youngest daughter, came up to Troop Leader, Jacque, to discuss the serious nature of life and death, during a not so serious moment. As a role model and mentor to girls, Jacque had discussed every life situation that challenges young girls, but in this moment she had to tackle a conversation that no child should ever have to have.

Megan asked Jacque if when her mom passes, she would attend her funeral. Megan had come to terms with the fact that her mom was dying and was trying express herself in the best way a grade school girl knows how. Jacque assured her that she would and reminded her that she had her phone number if she ever needed a friend to talk to. Megan proceeded to ask Jacque questions about life, if she knew any kids that lost their parents, or parents who have lost their kids. Jacque replied that although she was a little older than Megan she lost her mom at a young age and a son as well. She explained that although she misses her mom and her son, she’s still a happy person, and that Megan will be sad, but eventually she will think of her mom and smile, even if it takes a while.

Jacque also reminded Megan that she has all kinds of moms and dads looking after her from the troop. Megan replied, “I’m lucky, I have a whole bunch of sisters, too.”

And as sweet natured as Megan is, she told Jacque that when her mom wasn’t sick she took care of babies as an OB Nurse and that when she goes to heaven she knows she will take care of the son Jacque lost and be friends with her late mother.

Moments later, Megan joined back in the games with her friends and Jacque was relieved to know she had handled a very tough conversation well. Another girl from the troop came over to talk to her about how she was sad that her great uncle had recently passed at 90 years old. She explained to her that she shouldn’t be sad because although she will miss him, he had 90 years of adventure, friendship, love, and kindness. Megan came back over to the conversation and handed to her grieving friend a piece of paper. She said, “I know what you’re going through. When my mom became sick, Jacque gave me her phone number.” Her friend opened the note to find Megan’s phone number ready for a call at any time to help a friend.

Cathy finally passed and it was the night before a troop meeting. Jacque knew she had to address to the girls that a very important member of their Girl Scout family was gone, but didn’t know how. She spent hours googling, researching, and gathering opinions until she determined that girls would make cards for Megan, Ashley, and Bethany’s family. Moments later, their dad, Tom, called to let Jacque know that he planned on still bringing the girls to the meeting because they needed to be with their Girl Scout family. Although Jacque was secure with her plans to address the girls, she knew that the situation had elevated and was still searching for the best way to honor Cathy’s memory.

Moments before the meeting began, Jacque was approached by another girl from the troop, Madison. She said that she had something she wanted to give to her friends Megan, Ashley, and Bethany. The night that Cathy died, Madison’s butterfly had come out of its chrysalis and she knew that this was a sign that her friends needed this butterfly.

When the troop meeting began, Jacque pulled all the girls into a circle and asked for Madison and the sisters to come up with her. Prior to anyone else knowing about the miracle surprise, Jacque began to tell the girls about butterflies. Their lives are short, but so incredibly beautiful. And because life happens so quick that, like us, butterflies can’t be stressed and worried or live in sadness. Madison then shared with the sisters that last night her butterfly came out of its chrysalis and that she wanted to give it to them.

The sisters were so elated and shaking with joy that they were receiving their very own butterfly from a very good friend. After the initial excitement wore off, Megan stated that she didn’t know how to take care of a butterfly. Jacque responded that you set butterflies free so they can follow you wherever you go. Megan responded, “Like my mom?”

In that moment, the girls decided to open that container. As Ashley held the jar, Megan opened the lid and out came the largest, most elegant monarch the girls had ever seen. The girls began to smile the biggest they had in months. They tilted the jar slightly and the butterfly took off and fluttered around the troop like something out of the movie. When the butterfly finally ascended into the sky, one of the girls from the troop began to wave and said, “Bye Cathy!”

The family dynamic and sense of belonging created by this troop is not unique. Across eastern Iowa and Western Illinois, troops of young girls are forming sisterhoods and providing them with a place to be them themselves and learn to care for others. Like families, it’s the little moments that create a bond and the courage, confidence, and character that Girl Scouts earn so they can tackle what’s ahead.