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Girl Scout Troops Make a Difference for New York’s Homeless

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Meet Girl Scout Troop 6000. Established February at a Queens homeless shelter, the troop of 27 young girls is one of a future 15 to be set up in shelters throughout New York City.

The new troop was established after community engagement specialist at the Girl Scouts of Greater New York Giselle Burgess became homeless last year. The single mother asked her bosses about starting a troop at the shelter where she and her five kids were being housed.  

In a series of coincidental events, Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer of Queens (D), the homeless services department and Girl Scout officials just happened to be searching for new ways to “bring the program to homeless girls,” reported the New York Times.

Five of Troop 6000’s members spoke at a conference on July 12 in the Blue Room at City Hall to address the troop’s founding, future growth and “what the Girl Scouts meant to them.” The girls, who described themselves as proud pioneers of their troop, said they took pride in wearing the Girls Scout uniform and working hard for their badges.

Eleven-year-old Karina, one of Burgess’ daughters, said that Troop 6000 taught her “the true meaning of being a sister to every girl scout and how to emotionally support others.”

“The girls in Troop 6000 have come into their own,” said Burgess, who will manage the expansion for the New York Times. “What I mainly see with them is just pure leadership. From the smallest ones that we have to the oldest ones,” who are no older than 14, “they get the job done.”

According to the Department of Homeless Services, of the 60,000 people in the city’s main shelter system, 40 percent are children. And of the 287 people living at the Sleepy Inn, where Troop 6000 was started, 155 are minors.

According to the New York Times, Van Bramer believes in what these troops can do for New York City’s homeless youth. “I hope that you know this and feel this: that what you’ve done is so powerful and so important in changing our city for the better,” he said.

Troops like troop 6000 are one of the multiple new programs  Mayor De Blasio has initiated to address the needs of the city’s homeless children. Over the next three years, the expansion of these troops to 14 more shelters is
expected to serve roughly 500 girls.

Van Bramer, who as the New York Times reported had given the girls “pins for completing first aid training and discussed government with them last month” said, “It’s just about the most right thing I’ve ever been a part of.”

City Commissioner of Social Services Steven Banks also spoke of discussing ideas for further “expansion into other shelters” with Girl Scout representatives.

Of all things noted that this troop and those to come will do to help aid the youth of the greater New York City Area’s shelter system, only the Girl Scouts of Troop 6000 can explain the best part.

“The best part,” said Sanaa, 9, “is that we get to be Girl Scouts in Troop 6000.”

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