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Troop 6000 Positively Combats NYC’s Homelessness Crisis

In trying times when a home base did not exist, a mother thought of an opportunity for young girls to come together and create a new kind of community. Troop 6000 is the first Girl Scout troop in New York City to be designated for homeless girls exclusively.

All of the members of Troop 6000 live in a Sleep Inn in Queens, whose 10 floors have been designated as a living space for 100 families. The New York Times reported that “As Mayor Bill de Blasio and his administration grapple with a crisis of homelessness, the city has placed about 7,500 people in commercial hotels.”

Wanting a positive program and space of growth to be provided for the young girls living in these shelters, the homeless services department and Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, the representative of this section of Queens, tried to think up ideas for a summer scout program or something of the like. This is when Giselle Burgess, a mother of five currently residing in this Sleep Inn in Queens, had a wonderful idea.

She pitched the idea of beginning a Girl Scout troop for the girls in the hotel to her bosses who were in contact with Van Bramer, and was met with immediate encouragement to pursue it.

Although the first meeting only had eight girls trickle in—including three of Burgess’s daughters—the troop soon benefitted from word of mouth and is now at 20 scouts and counting.

The New York Times reported several heartwarming moments of parents and children wandering into the meetings, hopeful and excited to be joining a community that previously was too expensive to be an option.

“My daughter always wanted to go. I just couldn’t afford it,” says Ms. Wilson, mother of Takisha Wilson, another recent addition to the troop.

Angelo Vargas and his 7-year-old daughter Alexa were also seen rushing into the room, hoping to catch the meeting before it ended. “She was asking me all day, ‘Are we going to make it on time?’” Mr. Vargas was a Boy Scout as a child and is now a single parent who works in maintenance.

As The New York Times stated, “The meetings and outings, like a trip to the local Girl Scouts headquarters on Wall Street on Thursday, are something to look forward to in a place where a curfew and a restriction on visitors make it difficult to set up playdates and foster friendships.”

Educational activities like this one foster experiences for the girls to draw from to hopefully make positive impacts in their communities and themselves in the future.

Troop 6000’s costs, such as the membership fee, patches, pins, workbooks, vests, and monthly fees are being covered by the Girl Scouts of Greater New York.

As Ms. Burgess presumably foresaw, Troop 6000 is having an invaluable impact on these girls. Dreams of becoming a “fashion designer, pediatrician, basketball player, and engineer” are being positively encouraged by the values and leadership exposure that being a Girl Scout is allowing these girls. Some of them also already have plans to foster a better future for those who find themselves homeless, as their families did.

As stated by The New York Times, the girls discussed their future plans to help people. “I’m going to help the homeless,” said Silkia, 9. “I’m going to get mad money, and I’m going to ask them if they want a shelter.”

Luz, 13, added, “And then you’re going to give food, give blankets, give pillows, and there you go…a shelter.”

Troop 6000 is doing more than creating a space for these girls to learn and grow, it is creating a space for their dreams to be heard and encouraged by young girls just like themselves. The positivity is endless, and we believe that these girls will go on to do great things for their community – Scout’s Honor.

Featured Image by Peter & Joyce Grace on  Flickr
Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

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