Yet Another School

BUSES ARRIVING IN front of the Sleep Inn could mean one of two very different things: a field trip that might be the greatest day of a young Scout’s life, or the dreaded return to PATH, which meant you were getting bounced out of one shelter and moved to another. One prompted joy; the other served as a reminder that being poor meant having little or no control over where you would rest your head from one week to the next. Even if the decision to move families from one shelter to another wasn’t arbitrary, at the very least it seemed that the transfers were carried out with indifference. Someone somewhere—a caseworker or management at a hotel or in the Department of Homeless Services—had decided that it was time for people to pack up and move. Genesis, Brithani, and their mother and little sister were moved from the Sleep Inn to a more traditional shelter that had a regular-size refrigerator and a stove in each room so that families could make home-cooked meals. In their new space, Genesis was grateful to see her mother stirring pots, not only because that meant far better food than they’d been able to eat in a long time but also because the packaged lunches and dinners handed out each day at the Sleep Inn had been meals that could stretch to satisfy an empty stomach—filled with starches that could also exacerbate diabetes, which Genesis’s mother had developed. So having a stove and a refrigerator was good, because it meant healthier food. But the move came with consequences, too. Their new shelter was deep in East Flatbush, Brooklyn, about forty-five minutes away from the Sleep Inn. Genesis and Brithani had to start at new schools—again.

Troop 6000: The Girl Scout Troop That Began in a Shelter and Inspired the World by Nikita Stewart

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