The young women who are Girl Scouts Beyond Bars (GSBB) started 2020 with great hopes for a new year. They had just concluded an impressive entrepreneurship program, selling Girl Scout Cookies to the workers and their moms at the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women (MCIW). Girls were starting to plan the long-awaited annual overnight stay at MCIW with their mothers. In February, they joined with Girl Scouts and Girl Guides around the world to celebrate “World Thinking Day,” a Girl Scout tradition, which had a theme this year of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. After just participating in an historic Baltimore City Suffrage dedication, this theme was particularly meaningful to them. Girls produced creative tributes to equity, diversity and inclusion such as friendship bracelets. During this time, there was also the joyful return of a former troop member, Amy, who had not been with Girl Scouts Beyond Bars for some time. Amy was living with a family friend named Aunt Sophie since she started Girl Scouts with the GSBB troop as a Daisy in Kindergarten. She is now a Junior, in fourth grade. She loved to be helpful to troop leaders and to interact with the younger Girl Scouts at meetings and camping trips. Amy was a sweet girl, fun-loving and known for her appetite. Her troop leader is not sure exactly what happened, but the mother informed the troop in the fall that Amy would be moving to foster care and would not be returning to GSBB. It was shared that destructive behaviors had caused Aunt Sophie to request this move to another home. The troop leader hadn't noticed any of these behaviors in Amy. As the news was shared with the other troop leaders; they were so saddened by the news that Amy couldn't attend future troop meetings; that they were bought to tears. Happily, a few weeks after Amy was placed with a foster family she was able to come to meetings again! The transition was difficult for Amy, her new family, and Amy's mother. But the Girl Scout sisters and troop leaders were a welcoming safety net to help through this transition. So 2020 was starting out as a great year, full of hope, for all the girls in Girl Scouts Beyond Bars. And that was the last meeting before the CoVid-19 Pandemic. Girl Scouts is staying connected to the girls remotely, offering activities through the GSUSA Volunteer Toolkit. Girl Scout troop leaders' connections to the girls’ guardians have become stronger, and GSCM is supporting these families with virtual enrichment activities and connectedness that adds a bit of normalcy in the face of extraordinary challenges. Currently, there are needs for technology resources in the homes of these Girl Scouts, in order to stay connected with school and with GSBB. We are trying to help fill extraordinary needs for these young women at an extraordinary time in their young lives. Over the next few months, using a transitional hybrid model to reach and serve these Girl Scouts, the resiliency, flexibility and vibrancy of Girl Scouts Beyond Bars will be shown to prevail.
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