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Jylisa’s Story

Jylisa was experiencing homelessness when she found out she was pregnant. For the last 10 years, she had basically been raising herself – her mother coming sporadically in and out of her life because of her struggles with substance abuse. Jylisa was living in a shelter for pregnant and parenting young mothers – the RAPPP program through the Night Ministry – at the beginning of her pregnancy before being referred to New Moms when she turned 18.

When she moved into New Moms’ Transformation Center, she was immediately paired with a coach. Jylisa said everyone was very welcoming, but she wasn’t used to living with some many women and children, so it was a lot to get used to.

In January 2021, she gave birth to her daughter Ja’nylahh after an emergency C-section. She was in labor at the hospital for three days and almost suffered a stroke before getting to hold her baby in her arms. She was alone during the entire labor she said.

“I went through my whole labor by myself. I don’t have no body to say ‘it’s okay.’ I didn’t have none of that. I was by myself.” Jylisa said. “Then I saw her, and I held her and the pain and suffering – the whole experience – it was worth it. Just seeing her, it was worth it.”

After recovering for six weeks, Jylisa’s coach, Teneca, referred her to New Moms’ Job Training program and she began working at New Moms’ social enterprise candle company, Bright Endeavors, in March 2021. She was eventually promoted to team lead because of her task initiation and leadership skills.

“She’s on it! Nothing stopping her,” said Erin Vaughn, a New Moms’ Training and Coaching Specialist in the Job Training program. “If it comes out of her mouth, she’s going to do it.”

Jylisa said she came to realize that working at Bright Endeavors is more than just a job.

“Bright Endeavors gave me a boost of confidence.” Jylisa said. “It’s like you’re working for them but they’re also working for you. They value your opinion. They make sure you’re okay, physically and mentally.”

Jylisa also graduated from high school during her time at New Moms. She is most proud of herself for graduating on time while balancing her pregnancy and unstable homelife. She has enrolled at Malcom X College in Chicago to pursue nursing and will begin classes in the fall. In addition to earning her college degree, Jylisa’s future goals include finding permanent housing and spending as much time with her daughter as possible.

To other young moms thinking about joining a New Moms’ program, Jylisa says that if she can do it so can they.

“At this point, you’re not doing it for you. You’re not thinking for yourself no more,” Jylisa said. “You have a kid and you’ve got to start making the right decisions for your child. Whether it’s a girl or a boy, they’re looking at you as their role model, their person, their advocate, so you have to be there.”