The Girl Scout Troop That Began in a Shelter and Inspired the World
New York City-based Girl Scout Troop 6000 is in the midst of trying to sell as many of the coveted cookies as possible before the program ends on March 27. Their mission is a familiar one: to raise enough funds so hundreds of girls in the troop can partake in various activities, earn badges and even go to Girl Scout Camp. However, the backstory behind Troop 6000 is quite different from the rest.
It’s the first Girl Scout troop designed to serve girls living in New York City’s homeless shelter system, although it’s not the first troop to serve girls experiencing homelessness in the country. Thanks to the Troop 6000TM program, thousands of girls from more than 20 shelters all across the five boroughs are able to have an authentic Girl Scout experience.
“Troop 6000 creates opportunities for girls who would otherwise not have access to Girl Scouting to become a part of a strong community, build new skills, and ultimately see themselves as leaders,” Meridith Maskara, CEO of Girl Scouts of Greater New York, told Fox News.
Not only does the program is “part of our mission is to break stigmas around homelessness and show girls and the world that their current circumstances do not define them,” Maskara added.
Of the approximately 70,000 people living in New York City shelter system, most are families with children, according to the organization. Of those 70,000 people, approximately 23,000 of them are children under 18. Roughly half of that figure, approximately 12,000, are girls, according to the Girl Scouts.
“Families enter shelters because rent is unaffordable compared to their income, there is a shortage of affordable housing compared to need, and women are escaping domestic violence,” according to the Girls Scouts website. “These reasons contrast with traditional stereotypes of people experiencing homelessness.”
The troop traditionally meets every week in shelters throughout the city. Throughout the pandemic, troop leaders, have conducted weekly virtual meetings, which helps keep them from feeling “less alone and more hopeful.” The meetings are even run by the very women who are also living in the shelter system, according to the Girl Scouts. These women, who are also trained troop leaders, are paired with community volunteers, the organization said.
Like all other troops, the girls are dedicated to earning a range of badges covering topics from STEM, financial literacy, environmental protection, civic engagement and community service, all of which symbolize an important achievement, according to the organization.
Cookie Business badges in particular “demonstrate that a girl has developed specific skills related to running their own business,” the Girl Scouts said.
In recent weeks, droves of people have taken to Twitter, shedding light on the troop, in hopes of helping them throughout the cookie-selling season.