It’s that time of year. The time for buttery goodness and crunchy gooey deliciousness. If you’re thinking about curling up under a blanket with a box of Girl Scout cookies, consider buying them from Troop 6,000, a Girl Scout program serving young girls who are housed in the NYC homeless shelter system. There are lots of ways to do good in the world right now, but this is one of the sweetest.
The Details: What is Troop 6000?
Troop 6000 is a Girl Scout troop experience offered to the approximately 23,000 children currently housed in the New York City homeless shelter system.
Joining the Girl Scouts is a great way for these children who don’t have a home to at least have a place where they can feel at home through weekly meetings, field trips, and an assortment of community activities. The need for these sorts of interactions is ever more prevalent during this time of social distancing. In fact, social development experts concur that prolonged periods of social distancing can and are having adverse psychological effects on children and adolescents, particularly children above the age of five who depend on peer interaction in order to develop necessary social skillsets.
Isolation in the COVID-19 era is problematic for all children, teens, and adolescents. However, children who are enduring the psychological trauma of homelessness are already feeling isolated. The pandemic has merely deepened that experience.
Troop 6000 is operating virtually in 2021. With even more New York families at risk for homelessness through eviction, support for the program is pivotal.
Studies Correlate Girl Scout Participation with Improved Scholastic and Social Outcomes
As members of the Girl Scouts, these youngsters are exposed to a wide range of educational and recreational activities they might otherwise be excluded from due to their unhoused status. These include but are not limited to:
- Confidence building through a reward system complete with badges, trophies, and verbal recognition
- Environmental awareness
- Wilderness education
- Financial literacy
- STEM topics
One thing that’s really encouraging about these activities is that research shows they do wonders for kids and teens. For example, Girl Scout alumnae excelled in all of the following areas when compared to non-alumnae:
- Income level
- Socio-economic status
- Education level
- Relationship satisfaction
- Civic Engagement
- Overall Happiness Quotient
These benefits can help to combat the dismal statistics that all-too-often accompany homeless youth. These include but are not limited to:
- Elevated risk for victimization
- More likely to drop out of high school
- Increased risk for juvenile delinquency
- Increased risk for mental health issues in adulthood
The lack of access to resources for homeless children (especially educational resources) has been further exacerbated by the pandemic. For this reason and many more, it’s important to support them through the Girl Scouts and all other available means.
Troop Leaders Are Expertly Trained
Did you know that approximately 70% of the 70,000 plus New Yorkers living in homeless shelters are families? The Girl Scout experience helps keep families together at a time when they are under tremendous pressure to separate or fall apart.
Parents of Girl Scouts in Troop 6000 are also individuals experiencing homelessness. They are tasked with committing a few hours each week to the troop.
This is an excellent way for parents to still be actively involved in their children’s lives. In order to create the best possible atmosphere for the girls in the program, those parents are paired with volunteers who are trained, not just on Girl Scout guidelines, but also on the ins and outs of New York’s homeless shelter system.
About the Cookies
Troop 6000 has all the classic Girl Scout flavors you’ve been holding out all year for. From zesty lemon-flavored morsels to minty chocolatey delights. They even have gluten free options for those of you with allergies or dietary restrictions.
You don’t have to live in New York to take a bite out of homelessness either. Their website features an easily navigated digital order form so you can have those cookies delivered right to your door.
Girl Scout cookie season traditionally runs through April, but there are other ways to show year-round support. Troop 6000 always offers patrons the option to donate and/or volunteer.
The Hard-to-Swallow Truth: New York has a Growing Homeless Family Crisis
While many people wrongly associate homelessness with adult individuals, the truth is that New York and many other cities are facing a growing homeless family crisis. This has been the case since 2019, the era which is now recognized as pre-pandemic. Components like lack of affordable housing and domestic abuse account for the vast majority of incidents where families are forced into homelessness. Today, New York City renters anticipate an enormous rise in eviction that could significantly escalate the issue.
As Policy Analyst Josef Kannegaard explained in a 2019 interview, “Homeless children often become homeless adults, contributing to a cycle of generational poverty.”
The only way to prevent that cycle is to invest in non-punitive approaches to homeless prevention. So, while you’re placing your Troop 6000 order, remember to also contact your legislators urging them to #CancelRent and strengthen the eviction moratorium.