Polished and stylish when preparing for a board meeting, Ariel McGuire looks cool and professional. But stick around and watch her when she is doing her side hustle and you might be surprised. This 20-something year old has a few tattoos that you can see when she is in the ring….she’s a Muay Thai martial arts fighter!  When she’s not in full-contact combat, this amazing young lady is involved in a much different type of fight. She’s battling for the lives of girls and women in a country over 5,000 miles away from home.

Born and raised in Virginia, Ariel graduated from university in 2014 with a degree in Religious Studies. In 2012, she traveled to Ghana to study. While there, this adventurous lady traveled through West and East Africa. Ariel lived and traveled in Southeast Asia from 2015-2016. While living in Thailand, she loved the culture.

“There were lots of markets and shops. I lived in the mountains,” Ariel said. “The people there are beautiful.”

Ariel was teaching English, but she was seeking out people to teach her the art of Muay Thai.

“I was on a mission and I asked everyone how to start Muay Thai lessons. No one could help until a friend introduced me to someone who was practicing.” Ariel was soon hooked.

She was also still passionate about helping people in other countries. In the summer of 2017, Ariel returned to work in Ghana.

Ariel said, “Through Global Leadership Adventures, I partners with [fellow co-founder] Fafa Nukunu. We created a new program together.”

On The Mother’s Heritage International (MHI) website, Ariel is described this way: “As a very curious, vivacious, and strong-willed young woman, her experiences over time have evoked a fervent belief and passion for education and empowerment of women. After seeing and experiencing first-hand the type of change that needs to happen in Ghana, paired with the ability to create it within reach, she jumped on the opportunity to create MHI with Fafa Nukunu.”

Lake Volta, Ghana, is plagued by child slavery. In the Lake Volta region, around one in three children are engaged in child labor. Ariel said, “When I arrived, I saw the homes for child slaves were only for the boys. I asked, ‘Why not girls, too?’

Ariel and Fafa worked together to make a home a reality for the girls, too. They founded MHI to be an agent of social change and refuge for at-risk girls in Ghana. They provide rescue and refuge for young female slaves, teach women self-sustainable vocational skills, support educational and medical missions, and offer community education outreach. The entire idea behind their organization is to provide a safe, healthy environment for growth and education for girls who seek refuge from harmful labor practices and treatment on Lake Volta. All of Ariel and Fafa’s social initiatives are efforts that work together to stop the cycle of forced child labor and create positive change for women in Ghana.

“My main takeaway is knowing we are making a difference,” Ariel stated. With the establishment of MHI in 2018, they have just gotten started.

“My vision for 2019 is to raise money to purchase land for a new home for the girls.” Ariel said the best way to contribute to MHI is to donate money so she and Fafa can purchase the land and the building materials they need for the new building. 

Another way Ariel is raising money for MHI is through her passion for Muay Thai. Ariel currently competes in Muay Thai tournaments in Virginia. Here at RBI, someone who is associated with insurance had one of his unfiltered ADHD thoughts and suggested to Ariel to have a fight card to benefit her nonprofit.  She thought this was a great idea!  Ariel’s fight to raise money for MHI will be happening on January 26 in Winchester, Virginia at 6 PM. To learn more, please go to https://www.facebook.com/pg/RFSMMA/posts/.  Ariel is kicking butt, both figuratively and literally!

Whether she’s grappling with a fighter in the ring, or she’s working tirelessly to give girls and women in Ghana their freedom, Ariel is the kind of contender we love to champion.

To donate to MHI, please go to their website at https://mothersheritageintl.org/donate/.

On the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, there’s a new annual tradition. Have you heard of it? It’s Giving Tuesday. Around here, our pants are fitting tighter after that big turkey feast the previous week, our thoughts are turning to buying a Christmas tree, and we start thinking about presents for the RBI gift exchange. Giving Tuesday is an international day of giving at the beginning of the holiday season that reminds us, while we’re recovering from the turkey feast and preparing for the holiday hubbub, to remember to give to our community too during this season of generosity.

At RBI, we’re all about Giving Tuesday. And giving Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and on the weekend too! Seriously, our driving force, the foundation of our existence as an insurance and accounting company, is so we can serve the underserved nonprofit community with the support they need. Many insurance companies shy away from providing insurance to nonprofits because while they may be high-risk and really need insurance, they don’t have a lot to spend. They’re called nonprofits for a reason!

But we at RBI are really grateful for Giving Tuesday because it serves as a reminder to all of us that we’re part of a larger community. The holiday season is about showing that we care. While we care throughout the year, the cold winter months make it a little harder to get from one place to another, doing the daily things we have to do. The holiday season and Giving Tuesday remind us that it’s not just all about walking around with blinders on as we go through our daily activities. We have this reminder that we can show our community that we care about everyone. Having a great holiday spirit during this sometimes bleak season – looking at all of the bare trees, trudging through snow, dealing with ice – brightens not only our own lives but also the lives of everyone we support.

While we care for many nonprofits, we wanted to check in with Rebecca Blackwell at the Sophie House and find out what Giving Tuesday means to their community. The mission of the Sophie House is to provide encouragement, supportive services, and housing to single women and single women with children that will move them from instability to stability.

When asked about the impact of Giving Tuesday, Rebecca shared, “The Sophie House relies on the generosity of our community to support the single women and mothers in our program. Giving Tuesday is a great way to give back to organizations that make a difference to you. After being able to shop and buy and save lots of money on the things we want to give during the holidays, we then have the opportunity to give back some of the money we saved while shopping, to a cause that makes a difference in the community and to us! Giving Tuesday makes a difference!”

As Board Members for Sophie’s House, we’re so grateful for the impact of Giving Tuesday! We believe in giving through monetary donations, but also through giving our time and energy. So when you’re considering trading in your work pants for stretch pants after Thanksgiving, and making out that long holiday shopping list, consider starting first on Giving Tuesday, November 27th, and make the season bright through a donation to your favorite nonprofit.