Girl Scout Troop Serves Homeless Girls In Nashville

Posted at 3:44 PM, Dec 30, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-30 19:15:36-05

In one of the many rooms at Safe Haven Family Shelter, you are bound to find a group of young girls with different beaming personalities every Saturday morning.

It took some girls being picked up from their homes, while it was just a stroll down the stairs for others, to join a well-known program teaching young girls to build courage, confidence, and character.

One of them is Nevaeh Motley, a 10-year-old Girl Scout Junior. 

For four months she has participated with other girls ranging from 5 to 13 years old for Troop 6000. It is an initiative under the Girl Scouts that started through the shelter in August to serve homeless girls in the community. 

"It's really fun and interesting, and you get to learn new things everyday," Motley told NewsChannel 5. "Some of the girl scout troop leaders, they come and pick up the kids, so that way most of the kids can be a part of it."

Motley is one of the stand-out girls, having been named girl scout of the month for January after being so willing to help clean-up at a recent party. 

Before the program began, Motley and her family stayed at Safe Haven to find affordable living late last year. 

"A long time ago when I was little, we used to live in hotels," recalled Motley. 

They have since found a new home but Motley saw the opportunity to join a unique program. 

Her story is one of many that have filtered through Safe Haven, which served 88 families and 200 children in 2017. 

The organization has many resources to help homeless families like Motley's. It helped house 44 families and increase monthly income to approximately 20 percent this year.

"I was evicted and then I couldn't find a replacement home, so I lost my Section 8 voucher. It's difficult having kids and being homeless and not knowing when or how things are going to come together," said Erica Lewis, a mother of five daughters.

Lewis has been at Safe Haven since September and hopes to find affordable living by next year. The average stay for families at the shelter is up to 70 days, according to the director of development.

In the meantime, Lewis' daughters have also joined Troop 6000.

"I have seen more leadership from my daughters. A lot of change in attitude and are more responsible," said Lewis.

Her daughter, 7-year-old Kennedy Washington, is also a stand-out with her energetic and spunky personality. 

On Saturday, she was one of eight girls with two troop leaders looking forward to the next year. They spent the hour reviewing the Girl Scout law, previous accomplishments, and possible activities for next year.

Through the Girl Scouts of Middle Tennessee and HCA, the girls can experience the troop and attend field trips at no cost.

In Tennessee, there are more than 28,700 homeless children, according to a recent report from the American Institutes for Research.

The 2016 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) to Congress from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development showed there was an estimated 2,127 people in families with homeless children in Tennessee

About a quarter of all people in families with children experiencing homelessness were in New York with 26 percent or 51,037 people, according to the report.

It is in New York where Troop 6000 began earlier in 2017 to specifically serve girls in the shelter system before it expanded with a similar program in Nashville. 

The meetings in Nashville last for only about an hour, but it provides a consistent and enjoyable haven to learn outside of what can seemingly be a stressful situation. 

Troop 6000 not only serves girls in shelters or hotels but those in housing projects and other low-income areas. 

"I've always wanted to do it, so I'm very happy that they are able to take part in Girl Scouts," added Lewis.