Earlier this month, the US Dept of Labor announced its awarding of over 12 million dollars in funding to support job exploration and training options for young people. There were five national organizations whom each received a little over 2 million dollars to expand work readiness programs that provide education, training, supportive services, and work experiences to better prepare young adults for careers. The recipients of this grant funding were prioritized as organizations that serve underserved and underrepresented young people, especially youth of color experiencing housing instability, and those who live in rural communities.
When I read that the Girl Scouts of the USA was one of those recipients, a nostalgic chord was struck within me as I went down a 10-year trail of scouting memories during childhood & adolescence. Early on, I learned the fundamentals of survival through patch-work & camping. I was an active scout and with each passing year, my vest became more decorated until patches overlapped one another.
We paid our dues and sold cookies to earn the additional money to finance our annual out-of-state trip at the end of the year! I smiled to myself as the joyous memories of us hiking down Stone Mountain in the Georgia heat. We attended afternoon tea parties at Founder Juliette Gordon-Lowe’s house in Savannah. Over the years, we went skiing on several occasions, to theme parks, and toured countless museums in our nation’s capitol. Those trips were always such a positive reinforcement for me to do well in school, and the camaraderie was much needed, as it gave us an opportunity to build relationships outside our traditional sphere of influence.
Yet, nothing compared to the contribution and the lifelong impact of our Troop leader, Ms. AnnaMarie Greller. She was (at that time) a young, lively woman who went the extra mile to ensure we girls took advantage of all that Girl Scouts had to offer us. However, something seemed to always feel off in my world.
Although I (being an African American female) growing up in a middle-class home during the 80s & early 90s, having attended a private school, living in a two parent household; I instinctively felt there was a part of me that was simply missing. Our school was conservative. Therefore, I was not afforded to know much about black history; my history, our history. For years, I was lost in a whitewashed curriculum that included the basics of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, and Booker T. Washington’s contribution to American society.
During middle school, my parents transitioned me out of private education into public and I experienced more exposure to black history. As school projects would cycle around, my mom would contact a close relative in college for guidance and support for me. His suggestions led me to researching the lives of “Game-changers” such as Sojourner Truth, and Ida B. Wells. Although my school projects were often works of procrastination, my mom and I worked tirelessly through the midnight hours on the eve of its due date. However, It was the learning of those enlightened paths, and empowered words that drew me to aspire to be and do more.
By my Junior year of high school, I completed hundreds of scouting service hours in my community. At our council recognition banquet I was one of three girls of color represented where I was recognized and pinned as an earner of the Silver Award (next in line to the Gold Award) within our council. Afterwards, I reviewed the excessive requirements to earn the Gold Award, and decided it was best that I work for wages than to contribute more time into a system that would have potentially awarded more of an opportunity for scholarships. So, I became content with the decision to walked away with 10 years of service experience, no scholarship, no internship, and no opportunity.
I don’t know how the Girl Scouts are going to implement their $2 million grant earnings to underserved and underrepresented girls of color. However, based on my experience, I hope they go into the real underrepresented communities to look for and offer the ShaQuanda’s, the Alicia’s, and the Tasha’s in our hood true opportunities. However, for me…
Pearls of Grace, Inc. is now in its eighth year. And, we are taking a bend in the road to announce the implementation of our out-of-school outlet for girls of color beginning this school year. It will begin with our youngest members receiving a blend of education reinforcement for math and reading. We will provide a small-group focus on mentoring to assist in self discovery and trauma care to help students work through intergenerational trauma to find healing. And, implement creative arts as a means to build entrepreneurial skills and build dollars within service projects to rebuild their communities with.
Our goal is to become a safe place where our students can find the additional support and be a lifeline to girls of color who are socially impacted by intersectionality in multiple faucets of life. Pearls of Grace will help rebuild, and bridge hope for those seeking trauma relief from the grips of generational poverty. I believe that TOGETHER, we can build a platform to successfully bridge the gap for our children, and NOW is the time to change the tide!
I am asking for those who desire to be a part of a divinely inspired organization in celebrating true change for the trajectory of women and children in severely impoverished and structurally vulnerable communities; please join me! How? Currently, the organization needs all types of resources to successfully carry out its assignment. We are currently in need of Human Resources. If you are skilled in admin, and would like to donate one hour of help with things that are simple as assisting to digitize and uploading documents. Those who are willing to donate 2 hours a week at 9-week intervals to assist in the facilitation of small groups beginning this school year in August/September/October. (click here to connect)
I know that times are more financially difficult than ever, but there is an opportunity for us to purchase a used tour bus! That’s right! A used bus to transport our Pearl’s who have worked really hard to our annual end-of-year trips! The bus we are looking at is in great condition and has been used only for a third of its life. The seller is from a credible professional who is downsizing his fleet and wants to sell it at the incredible price of just $15K!
I am asking that if you can partner with us at a gift of any size, to help us reach the students who are suffering with trauma and create a safe space to release it; please do so at paypal.me/PearlsofGrace