These homeless Girl Scouts wanted to sell 6,000 cookie boxes. They sold more than 32,000.

The girls in Troop 6000 look like any other Girl Scouts, sporting patch-covered vests and asking people to buy cookies. The difference? The girls are homeless.

Troop 6000 was created in 2016 to serve girls living in New York City's homeless shelter system. It’s a unique but wonderful idea — a Girl Scout troop with leaders trained from inside the shelter system itself, to empower both women and girls and give them the opportunity to benefit from everything the Girl Scouts program has to offer.

Troop 6000 members met with New York legislator and community leaders to celebrate their unique status as the first Girl Scout troop for homeless girls. Photo by Don Emmert/Getty Images.


According to the Girl Scouts website, “Research has shown that Girl Scout alumnae have a stronger sense of self, achieve higher levels of education, and are more likely to reach a higher socio-economic status.”

No doubt the community, consistency, and confidence-building that Girl Scouts offer would be especially beneficial for girls facing the challenge of homelessness. But as it turns out, these girls are also good for Girl Scouts.

They not only surpassed their first cookie sales goal — they totally obliterated it.

According to NBC News, this was the first year the troop participated in the traditional cookie fundraiser. They arranged to set up shop and sell their cookies at Kellogg's NYC Café in Union Square.

The girls set a goal to sell 6,000 boxes of cookies in six days. They ended up selling more than 32,500.

Customers stood in hour-long lines to buy cookies from the girls, in addition to donating at total of $15,000 additional funds to the troop. Meridith Maskara, CEO of Girl Scouts Greater New York, called the sale a "resounding success." Um, yeah. I'd say so.

Cookie proceeds and donations go toward funding the troop’s various learning and service projects. I see awesome things coming for these girls.

When a community comes together to serve those who are struggling, amazing things can happen.

Troop 6000 was launched by Giselle Burgess, a mother of five who became homeless while working for the Girl Scouts of Greater New York in 2016. Her rental home was put up for sale, and she found herself at a Sleep Inn along with other families facing homelessness.

Members of Troop 6000 with Giselle Burgess, who spurred the troop's founding. Photo by Don Emmert/Getty Images.

"When I first became homeless myself, I'd always thought homelessness was the man outside with the cardboard sign asking for money," Burgess told BuzzFeed News. "But it’s working women, it’s working families."

With the help of Girl Scouts of Greater New York, Mayor de Blasio, and the city’s Department of Homeless Services, Burgess’ idea for Troop 6000 came to fruition. At a little more than a year old, it’s thriving. Thousands of children live in the New York City homeless shelter system, and the troop now has nearly 300 members.

Troop 6000 sold more than five times as many cookies as they had planned. Photo by John Moore/Getty Images.

Girls in the troop say their Girl Scout experiences have changed their lives.

"The difference between me and before Troop 6000 is that I can speak up more,” Troop 6000 member Sanaa told Spectrum News NY1, “and I don't have to feel like I'm different at all."

"All of us envision we're so powerful, and we have a voice," said another scout, Karina. "Even if our voice is small, we have a voice and we can impact this world."

Can’t wait to see what impact these girls make next.

True

When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

via Pixabay

Over the past six years, it feels like race relations have been on the decline in the U.S. We've lived through Donald Trump's appeals to America's racist underbelly. The nation has endured countless murders of unarmed Black people by police. We've also been bombarded with viral videos of people calling the police on people of color for simply going about their daily lives.

Earlier this year there was a series of incidents in which Asian-Americans were the targets of racist attacks inspired by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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