Girl Scouts ‘Beyond Bars’ program helps girls and mothers bond

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“While she was in prison [my sister and I] were able to build a relationship with her.

ST. LOUIS- “Girl Scouts Beyond Bars helped me a lot to see my mom. Some people have relatives in prison and cannot visit them at all,” said Amber Rush.

While she was in jail [my sister and I] were able to build a relationship with her.

Beyond Bars is a free program for St. Louis girls whose mothers are incarcerated in Vandalia or Chillicothe Women’s Correctional Centers.

“I struggled raising them and I still struggle with that now because they were raised before,” Mallory said. “I’m not trying to be your sister or your friend, but I feel like their sister because my mother raised [us]she raised them.

Incarcerated mothers and their daughters have been building and strengthening relationships on behalf of Beyond Bars since 1996. The program provides transportation for monthly meetings and several bonding activities, including arts and crafts, STEM projects, and more Again.

Amber and her twin sister Autumn have been part of the program since they were little. Their mum Mallory went to jail for 12 years after getting caught up in a big fight, which she says wasn’t her fault. It was released in 2020.

Amber, Autumn and Mallory’s story explains why LaTonya Logan, Community Troops Manager for Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri, said she loves her job and what motivates her.

“I wanted to do this job because mother-daughter relationships are so important,” Logan said. “I’m lucky that my mother was always there. I don’t even know what it could look like [now I’m a mom] think about being away from my child.”

Maya Pierce, senior program manager for Community Troops, said it’s important people know the program exists.

“I want people to know about the program because although we are partners with the Missouri Department of Corrections, the information is not always seen by the public,” she said.

“So if there’s a loved one in Vandalia or Chillico, get in touch with us, we’d love to involve them. We’d love to work with the City and County of St. Louis because we could start the relationship before that. they can’t.

The aftermath of Mallory’s imprisonment left her mother (the girl’s grandmother) and other family members to raise the twins. His incarceration had a huge effect on family communication.

“I struggled raising them and I still struggle with that now because they were raised before,” Mallory said. “I’m not trying to be your sister or your friend, but I feel like their sister because my mother raised [us]she raised them.

When the girls got into trouble, Mallory’s mother told her to discipline them, however, she didn’t feel comfortable being the discipline due to her surroundings.

“I felt like I had no right, it wasn’t my place to say anything because ‘Who am I to tell them how to act, look where I’m at?'” Mallory said.

Amber was okay with Mallory’s attitude towards her and her sister’s relationship with their struggling mother after her release.

“We’re still struggling to decide if we want to be kids or adults,” Amber said. “There are things we want to do that are adult things. We want to go out with our friends. We want to do this, we want to do that, but at the same time we want to be children.

When Mallory was released from prison, she said she struggled to adjust to having her daughters back in life and knowing that she hadn’t been alone for 12 years.

“I felt like everyone was like, ‘Okay, you’re here now. I need you to take care of them. I need you to do this, do that,'” he said. -she says.

“I felt like no one understood that I had just spent 12 years on my own. I was surrounded by people, but I was alone. Now I need some space to understand this what they expect of me.

Life is much different now for the family since Mallory’s release. Mallory obtained her cosmetology license in 2020 and works as a barber at the Iconic Male Grooming Spa in Ballwin.

“I didn’t think of a passion,” Mallory said. “I always try to have my feet firmly planted on the ground. I’m not in the clouds right now thinking about what I want to do. I think about what I should do. »

Amber and Autumn are seniors at Soldan International Studies High School.

Amber has applied to various colleges including Fontbonne University, Harris-Stowe State University, Truman State University, and Missouri S&T.

“I want to major in early childhood, special education, and minor in social work,” Amber said. “I have a cousin with Down syndrome and a brother with autism, I like talking to them and I really want to help people.”

“I’ve always been into hair and beauty, I’ve wanted to do that for a while,” Autumn said. “I also like psychology, I took AP psychology my freshman year.”

Learn more about the Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri Chapter’s Beyond Bars program here: https://www.girlscoutsem.org/en/get-involved.html#outreach.

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