Girl Scouts

Girl Scouts Beyond Bars

Lake Area United Way fights for the education, health, and financial stability of everyone in our community. We fight for Shamari and Shania* and their mother. We win because the Girl Scouts Beyond Bars program gives them a chance to continue to bond as a family and stop the cycle of incarceration.

In a place and time where most children rely on their mothers for care, the incarceration of a mother jars families and households. Four years ago, Shamari and Shania’s mother faced incarceration, and their father left as a result of that sentencing. Through GSBB, the girls began visiting their mother at a correctional facility, and each month the girls would travel for hours to visit their mother.

Orchestrating reliable transportation for Shamari and Shania to maintain a relationship with their mother was only one aspect of drastic change the girls faced. While their mother was incarcerated, they moved from house to house, and at times, they lived in a single hotel room with two adults and two younger cousins. The girls underwent change no child should experience, and the girls and their mother were determined to have a relationship beyond bars.

The girls experienced extreme change within a few years. They experienced homelessness due to a fire, slept on couches, and ultimately, found reprieve through Girl Scouts and their eventual attainment of a home with their mother. Through Girl Scouts Beyond Bars, Shamari and Shania are setting and achieving goals, and changing their trajectories toward bright futures.

*Names are changed to protect the client's identity.