Olivia’s Story

‘New Moms helped to open doors for me – doors to be a great mom. Everything I was looking for New Moms offered it at some time.’

Olivia was homeless and staying in a shelter from the time she was 3 months pregnant until the night she gave birth to her baby girl, Giselle. She had been sleeping on friends’ couches trying to avoid living in a shelter. Her aunts told her that she had to go into a shelter because if she didn’t the state would never know that she needed help. “It was humbling to have to submit to the process… It was stressful to be pregnant and in a shelter. I didn’t want to bring my baby into that setting.” Olivia pressed on.

She was referred to New Moms for housing, but when she came to New Moms she learned about the family support program, which included prenatal services and the opportunity to have a doula. “The prenatal group was so interesting! So visual. Everything I needed to know and thought I knew was touched on.” She developed a close relationship with her New Moms’ doula, Luecendia, and felt very supported through her birth.

“She taught me so much and if I had a question about anything the doors were opened.” After giving birth, Olivia knew she had the support and resources she needed to take the next step. She had stable housing, support as she began parenting, and now she needed to look for income. “I didn’t want to get comfortable, I had to move to the next step.” She came back to New Moms to join the Job Training program.

“The Job Training program helped me grow in my interviewing skills. It helped be become more confident and learn to use what I thought was negative and see the positives.” She earned income through the paid, hands-on job training at New Moms’ social enterprise candle company, Bright Endeavors, where she crafted premium soy candles while practicing transferrable job skills. With classroom teaching blended throughout the program, the hands on experience was reinforced with opportunities to learn more about character development and the importance of living a life that would make her daughter proud.

“I want to be a loving, understanding type of mother and to be the best that I can be.” Olivia continues to express a great desire to keep learning in life and from her daughter. She sees the great benefit this experience has had on her daughter, “She will benefit because I benefitted from being at New Moms. New Moms allowed me to have financial stability and she will get to reap the fruits of that experience.”

Olivia was recently hired by New Moms and works on the front lines of service, helping young moms connect to the supports at New Moms.

Tonya’s Story

‘I want my daughter to live a better life than what I wanted to pursue…’

‘I was incarcerated while I was pregnant – it was very tough.’ Tonya came to New Moms after being released. Before she was incarcerated she was running with the wrong crowd. ‘I got kicked out of my mama’s [house] when I disrespected her.’

But at New Moms she found an opportunity to make a change. She found stability in our Housing Program and a place she could really focus on her life and the future of her daughter.

‘The housing is our own space. I have a studio apartment – everything is like having my own apartment at 21 – I just love it!’

Tonya’s determination is infectious. In parent support group you’ll often find her motivating other young moms in the program, challenging them to take this opportunity at New Moms seriously. She’s not interested in going back to where she came from – she’s moving forward.

Before New Moms’ Tonya shared that she was alone, trying to ‘come up with the next dollar’ to care for her daughter. But now she is surrounded by a whole community of staff and other young moms who are supporting her as she seeks to transform her life. It won’t be easy, but now she won’t be alone on this journey.

Debrea’s Story

Debrea, 23, came to New Moms as a mother of 2 young children. She was out of formula and learned about New Moms could help. She shares, “I went to New Moms to pick up the milk and they were like, ‘hey! Do you want some pampers?’ – they gave me pampers. And then they were like, ‘We have a job training program that we’re starting a new cohort for next month and if you’re interested we could sign you up.”

Debrea joined our Job Training program and fully engaged. She developed stronger interview skills, created a resume, worked at Bright Endeavors (our social enterprise candle company) and utilized our Supportive Employment Specialist to find job openings that could offer her opportunities to work towards her goals and build a strong future for her family.

Half way through the Job Training program, Debrea found a temporary job with USPS and proved herself to be a great employee. She came back to Bright Endeavors to complete the program and graduate. But she never attended her graduation celebration – instead she started a full time position at USPS! Congratulations Debrea! We are so proud of you! Keep transforming your future, one determined step at a time!

Tina’s Story

Tina applied to join New Moms’ Workforce Development program in early 2013. She had a newborn daughter, and was looking for support, in order to grow professionally and become a role model for her new baby girl. She came to the program hoping to learn job skills, but also how to juggle motherhood with the working world.

Although Tina explored other career paths throughout her time in Workforce Development, she kept coming back to her passion for baking.  Tina set her career goal: to become a pastry chef.  On one career outing with her Workforce class, Tina had a chance to tour Le Cordon Bleu, where she learned how much training she would need in order to pursue her dream.

Through our program, Tina learned critical job-readiness skills, improving her communication, time management, and customer service skills; as well as how to balance family life with work. Her Supportive Employment Specialist worked individually with her to locate a great daycare facility, learn to balance her bank accounts, and budget her paychecks.

After graduating from Workforce Development, Tina signed up for a program that would train her to become a pastry chef.  She immersed herself in her craft, while working part time at Mariano’s, as a cake decorator.  This well-paying job allowed her to support her family while gaining on-the-job experience in her chosen field.

“Without New Moms, I would have never gotten my career started.  I wouldn’t have known where to start.”  With guidance from her Supportive Employment Specialist, Tina now balances parenthood, full-time school, and part-time work.  At New Moms, she found a community of support, which provided the encouragement she needed, as a young mother.

Monet’s Story

When Monet came to us with her three-year-old son, she was homeless.  A high school dropout, Monet had a huge chip on her shoulder.  She felt like everything in her life was negative, including her relationship with her son. After applying to be a part of our Workforce Development program, Monet failed a drug test—postponing her enrollment.  She didn’t want her son to play with other children, but she didn’t want to spend time with him herself, either.  As a result, he was disengaged from the world, and “hyper-vigilant”—never sure of his safety. Monet was angry at the world.

New Moms’ staff approached interactions with Monet from a strengths-based perspective—praising and encouraging Monet whenever she exhibited a positive behavior.  Within weeks, Monet was less confrontational, and we saw her self-confidence begin to build.  Within a few months at New Moms, Monet has made extraordinary changes in her lifestyle and behavior.  She began engaging in Parent Support Group, and received an award for perfect attendance.  Staff helped Monet to enroll in a GED program, and she agreed to complete a substance abuse treatment assessment.  Once she produced a clean drug screen, Monet was enrolled in our Workforce Development Program, to help her work toward her goal of becoming a chef.  She looks forward to enrolling in a culinary arts training program through Inspiration Kitchens, once she has completed her GED.

Monet has become an attentive, engaged mother.  She interacts positively with her son, who delights in playing with other children.  It is a true joy to see her playing and laughing with her son.

After she turned her attitude around, Monet did something nobody expected—she wrote thank-you notes to staff and participants who had helped her along the way.

We see young women like Monet every day at New Moms.  They have been abused and ignored by their communities, and although they come to us for help, they live in fear that we will turn them away.  Instead, we approach every participant from a strengths-based perspective—acknowledging her strengths, and helping her to build on her assets.  As we encourage Monet to make positive changes in her life, she feels empowered to work toward her goals, and build a stronger relationship with her son.

New Moms (Chicago)
5317 W. Chicago Ave.
Chicago, IL 60651

New Moms (Oak Park)
405 South Euclid Avenue
Oak Park, IL 60302

773.252.3253

773.252.5320

contact@newmoms.org

New Moms is proud to be a subgrantee of the Social Innovation Fund (SIF) program and a member of REDF’s national portfolio.