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Girl Scouts' holidays made happier with gift of a van

Contribution from the Wheeler Foundation enabled the purchase of new van for Girl Scouts of Central Maryland’s Beyond Bars program

12/25/2015, 6 a.m.
Girl Scouts of Central Maryland (GSCM), after months of fundraising efforts, received a sizeable contribution from the Wheeler Foundation that ...
Violet M. Apple, Chief Executive Officer of Girl Scouts of Central Maryland; and Valerie Montague, Girl Scouts of Central Maryland, Beyond Bars Coordinator, with the new 2016 Ford Transit 15-passenger van that will be used to transport girls in the Beyond Bars troop to the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women in Jessup, as well as field trips. (Courtesy Photo/Girl Scouts of Central Maryland)

Girl Scouts of Central Maryland (GSCM), after months of fundraising efforts, received a sizeable contribution from the Wheeler Foundation that has allowed the organization to purchase a new van to provide transportation for members of the council’s “Beyond Bars” troop.

The $25,000 donation covered the majority of the $33,000 cost of a new 2016 Ford Transit 15-passenger van.

The Girl Scouts’ Beyond Bars program links girls with their mothers who are incarcerated at the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women (MCIW) in Jessup, Maryland through troop meetings at the prison. The van will be used to transport girls living with guardians in Maryland to MCIW for their twice-monthly troop meetings.

Troop meeting activities at MCIW facilitate bonding so that trust can be reestablished as the girls work with their mothers to earn badges and learn Girl Scout traditions. GSCM also takes the girls on field trips, where they can explore and learn teamwork and responsibility.

The van will also be used to take the girls on these educational field trips. The previous vehicle used for these purposes was beyond repair.

There are currently 35 girls participating in the Beyond Bars program. On any given troop meeting day, between six and 12 girls are picked up from their homes or from Girl Scouts headquarters on Seton Drive for the trip to MCIW.

The Girl Scouts Beyond Bars program began in Central Maryland in 1992 and has been replicated by dozens of Girl Scout councils across the nation.

Research conducted by the National Girl Scouts Research Institute shows that the girls in the Beyond Bars program fare better in school and with relationships than girls who lose connection with their incarcerated mothers.

“We are extremely thankful to the Wheeler Foundation for this gift,” said Violet M. Apple, Chief Executive Officer of Girl Scouts of Central Maryland. “We are very proud of the programming we are able to offer girls who are often forgotten by society. The Girl Scouts program can make a difference in every girl’s life. Acquisition of this new van ensures that we can continue to serve girls and help them to build relationships with their mothers.”