Hear from young moms (both current and past participants) as they talk about their experience at New Moms and share their hopes for the future! You can read stories of families in each of our three programs – Housing, Job Training, and Family Support – and alumni.
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Naomi is one of the many young moms we work with whose plans were derailed by unforeseen challenges. Since she was eight years old, of becoming an obstetrician/gynecologist (OB-GYN). She had been raised in the foster system and recently experienced the grief of losing her brother by murder. She persevered and got into college, but in her junior year, the pandemic hit and classes went online. Naomi chose to wait for classes to resume in person, and during that time she became pregnant. Moving to Wisconsin to be with her child’s father, she began to experience domestic violence, and while escaping this dangerous situation, she also became homeless.
Her dreams on hold, Naomi went into survival mode seeking support and housing. She found New Moms and moved into our housing program just two weeks before giving birth to healthy and beautiful Giovanni. Because of New Moms, Naomi and her son had a safe home to come back to and begin their life together.
As a new parent, she also has the support of New Moms coaches to lean on. Naomi recalled her coach, Magy’s, guidance: “She helped me understand my son. Because this is my first time parenting, I don’t know what to look for or what to work on specifically. Little things that she pointed out has helped me keep my son on track.”
Since starting at New Moms, Naomi has had the support she needs to get back on track to pursue her dream. She has eagerly joined every program we offer, including our Job Training and Academic Coaching programs. Just this May, she began a new job at Candycopia, a local employment partner who is passionate about supporting New Moms’ mission. And Naomi is re-enrolled in college classes part-time to work towards completing her Bachelor’s degree!
Jessica and her kids were one of the first families to move into Clare Place, New Moms’ permanent supportive housing in Oak Park. Before New Moms, Jessica had been bouncing around from place to place with her children after being kicked out of her mother-in-law’s house.
“Right before Clare Place, I was living in a one-bedroom basement,” said Jessica, who is 25 years old. “There was no windows. I didn’t have my own kitchen or bathroom, so it was really hard. Definitively really hard.”
The best part about Clare Place, Jessica said, is that her kids – Alexander and Madelyn – get to have their own room.
“Having a place for my children and myself to be able to come home to and call somewhere home is more than I could have asked for,” Jessica said. “For them to have their own room, to have their own space, I’m so grateful to be able to give that to them.”
As part of living at Clare Place, Jessica’s family partners with a New Moms’ coach who is there to help them set and pursue their goals for the future. Jessica said her coach, Paula, is “amazing” and is a good listener.
“New Moms has helped me in a lot of different ways—especially Paula,” Jessica said. “She’s been such a good help. She has helped me a lot with my mental health challenges and all of the things I’ve dealt with to get to where I am now.”
Recently, Jessica and her son helped Paula create an inspirational flyer to hang up in Clare Place. Paula makes monthly flyers celebrating an inspirational person of color, and Jessica and Alexander helped Paula create one honoring Frida Kahlo. Jessica said this was a great way for her to teach her son about his Mexican heritage.
“I want to make sure my son is proud of who he is and where he comes from and that’s how we talked about the flyer,” Jessica said. “Paula asked if I knew anyone that was Hispanic who inspired me. I told her about Frida Kahlo and why myself and Alexander thought she would be a perfect person to put on the flyer.”
Jessica’s plans for the future include finding another job in health care. She was laid off because of the pandemic but wants to get back into the field. She said she’s been talking with Paula about pursuing her Registered Nurse (RN) degree and becoming a pediatric nurse.
“Paula encourages me, even with all the other stuff going on like my son having to do eLearning, she keeps inspiring me and keeps me going making sure that I follow my dreams no matter how old I get or how many months pass,” Jessica said.
To other young moms, Jessica says it’s worth it to work with New Moms.
“I would tell them take the opportunity that is given to them,” Jessica said. “It’s definitely worth a try and it can help them so much in ways they might not see right away but do matter. You guys have helped a lot!”
By the time Natasha came to New Moms with her newborn, Samiya, she had moved five times while pregnant, ultimately giving birth as a 19-year-old while living at The Night Ministry’s emergency shelter. Experiencing depression, Natasha knew she needed help, saying, “I knew I wasn’t ready for a baby. I didn’t have finances, I didn’t have my own place. It was kind of scary.”
While at The Night Ministry, Natasha learned about New Moms’ job training program, which blends classroom and on-the-job training in a comprehensive 16-week program specifically designed for young moms. The program appealed to Natasha because of the opportunity to work at Bright Endeavors, New Moms’ social enterprise candle company.
However, like many of the young mothers served by New Moms, the most important first step toward a better future was finding a safe, stable home. Knowing this, Natasha applied to New Moms’ transitional housing program and, in June 2017, moved into an apartment in our Transformation Center. In addition to providing a safe environment for Samiya, the apartment gave Natasha a sense of security and confidence that she had never experienced before. On her first impression of her new home, Natasha remarked, “When I saw the apartment, my heart dropped. This was my own place. I’d been waiting for this moment for so long. It felt like everything was clicking together for me.”
Confident in the fact that she would no longer have to worry about where she and her daughter would sleep each night, or how she would provide Samiya with basic necessities like diapers and formula, Natasha quickly began laying the groundwork for a new life. With guidance and support from New Moms’ staff, Natasha picked a daycare provider for Samiya, allowing her to devote her full attention each day to becoming the best mother she could be.
Enrolling in several support groups offered by New Moms, Natasha began gaining foundational parenting skills and took advantage of a peer network to help her deal with the unique challenges our participants face every day. She also entered the paid job training program that initially drew her to New Moms, learning professional skills like resume preparation and interview techniques, while also gaining practical skills while working as a production assistant at the Bright Endeavors factory.
Successfully completing the job training program in November 2017, Natasha’s hard work quickly paid off. Within a month of graduation from the program, she was hired by Helping Hand Partners, a nonprofit organization that sources and distributes socially responsible products. Still living at the Transformation Center, Natasha is now focused on saving money and continuing to utilize the family support programs offered by New Moms so that she can provide Samiya with the stability she needs to thrive. “My vision for myself is to provide for my child and raise her up the right way,” says Natasha. “And as a woman, to continue to go to work, take care of home, take care of bills, save money and be humble.”
Through New Moms, Natasha is shaping the story of what her family can look like one day at a time, and serving as an example of what is possible when hard work and determination meet opportunity. We are extraordinarily proud of Natasha, and excited for the future she is building for herself and her daughter.
‘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.
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.”
Shutia is a 23-year-old mother of three boys all of whom are under the age of seven. Some might say that’s a handful, but Shutia joyfully says her sons are well-behaved and fun.
She said her boys are also what keeps her motivated because she knows they’re depending on her. As a single mom, she feels double the pressure to provide for her children which is why losing her job at Marshalls during the pandemic was so hard. She said she could only buy the essentials and had to keep to a strict budget.
“Getting laid off was hard. I didn’t have as much money so I couldn’t take care of my boys like I wanted. If I didn’t need it, I didn’t buy it.”
Since many businesses were closed due to the pandemic, Shutia realized she was unlikely to find a new customer service job. After seeing a message about New Moms’ Job Training program in a Facebook group, she decided to enroll.
Shutia said she’s enjoyed her time as a production assistant at New Moms’ social enterprise, Bright Endeavors. She likes working with the other moms in the program and says the coaches set a good example of how to be professional.
“I’m gaining all the tools I need to be successful. They teach us things we can take with us through life.”
Shutia was recently promoted to team lead at Bright Endeavors, so now she trains the moms just starting the program. She said she was especially proud of this achievement because the promotion came out of nowhere.
“The coaches said that even though I was quiet, they knew I was always present on the job and willing to help others.”
Shutia’s future goals include saving $1,000 by the end of her 12 weeks in the program, so she can move into her own apartment. She said she’s “excited and nervous” to move into her own place for the first time.
As part of her savings goal, Shutia opened her first ever savings account with the help of New Moms staff. All New Moms participants are eligible for a free, FDIC-insured bank account through US Bank which is one tool we use to promote financial justice in the face of generations of injustice against communities of color. Shutia said having a bank account makes her feel stable and she’s excited by the possibilities it provides.
Eventually, Shutia wants to re-enroll in classes at Daley College. She’s interested in social work and child counseling because she firmly believes every child needs someone to talk to and to reach out to when life is hard.
To other young moms, Shutia encourages them to join the New Moms’ Job Training program for the paid professional development and the additional benefits.
“It’s hard but do it anyway.”
Tajuor said her life completely changed when she saw the New Moms flyer at her local aid office.
At the time, Tajuor was 7 months pregnant with twins and was feeling overwhelmed by the changes in her life.
“When I got pregnant, I felt like life just stopped,” she said.
She brought the flyer to the attention of her case manager who help connect her with New Moms’ Family Support program. Tajuor has now been partnered with New Moms for over two years.
“New Moms helped a lot and came into my life at the right time,” said Tajuor, who is 24 years old. “New Moms was more than just helpful. I was pregnant and New Moms provided the extra shoulder I needed to lean on.”
Tajuor said she especially loved her doula who helped her successfully deliver her sons who are now almost two years old. Doulas at New Moms are coaches who specifically work with women through pregnancy, birth, and the post-partum period.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Tajuor was still able to finish school and earn her Certified Medical Assistance (CMA) license. She said the switch to virtual learning was challenging, especially because her toddlers were also at home, but she was still able to complete her classes.
After graduating, Tajuor enrolled in our Job Training program. She said she’d wanted to join the program for a long time but now was finally the time that “everything lined up.”
She said she really enjoys working as a Production Assistant at our social enterprise, Bright Endeavors. Even working during a pandemic, Tajuor said she finds pouring wax, labeling, and organizing candles for shipping relaxing. She said she’s also learned a lot about herself during the program working.
“I’m strong,” Tajuor said. “I didn’t know I had so much determination and fight in myself as I do.”
Tajuor said her future plans include becoming a homeowner by the time she’s 27 and returning to school to become a Registered Nurse (RN). She said she’s interested in healthcare because it’s a way to make a difference in someone else’s life.
After finishing the Job Training program, Tajuor plans to work with our Employment Specialists to find a job. She said she wants to start saving up for a new car and setting money aside for her twins.
When reflecting on her time with New Moms, Tajuor said, “I’ve had a great experience. I didn’t know I would gain so much from this program as I have. I’m just happy I went on that bulletin board and gave you all a call. The people I met have impacted my life.”
In fact, whenever she sees a pregnant woman, Tajuor said she tells them to call New Moms. She even referred her best friend to our programs.
“New Moms is more than just an organization,” she said. “It’s a support system, helping hand, and motivator.”
Tajuor said she has transformed into a “totally different person” than she was two years ago before partnering with New Moms.
“I guess that’s what happens when you become a mom,” she said. “Your eyes open up. Open up to life itself. I wanted something better because my sons deserve it and so do I.”
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!
Kamilah is excited about her future! She graduated from Marine Leadership Academy in June and will be starting at Truman College this fall. She said becoming a mom changed her life for the better and that, “New Moms has really helped in a lot of ways.”
Before coming to New Moms, Kamilah was having trouble in school. During the COVID-19 lockdown, she also experienced depression and felt angry being stuck at home. She said she had a negative attitude and often acted out. However, that all “went away” when she became pregnant. She said she developed more maturity and motivation when she found out she was going to be a mom.
Kamilah partnered with New Moms when she was four months pregnant with her son Hugo. She was paired with Tia, a doula (or birth coach), to help her through the final stages of her pregnancy and prepare for labor. Simultaneously, she started working with Precious, a family support coach, to help her in other areas of life. She said her coaches, especially Precious, have become like family.
“We low-key created a bond with her,” said Kamilah, who is 18 years old. “She makes sure the baby is developed. She brings books, diapers, and everything to make sure that we have enough.”
Kamilah said Precious helped keep her on track in school – checking her grades and helping her find opportunities to complete her service hour requirement for graduation. Precious also helped Kamilah fill out her FAFSA so she could afford to go to college. Kamilah was awarded two scholarships and plans to take cosmetology classes so she can open her own salon. Later this summer, Kamilah and her boyfriend will be moving into their first apartment, and they are both excited to create a home for their young family.
“New Moms does a good job of making you feel like family but also putting pressure on you and motivating you,” Kamilah said.
Although the first steps of motherhood are hard, Kamilah wants to let other moms know that they “still need to move past it.”
“It takes a lot of time but that doesn’t mean you should give up,” Kamilah said. “Because every day you’re going to wake up with your son or your daughter and they’re going to be smiling at you. And it kind of gives you some hope. You just want to do everything you can for them. So just don’t give up on what you want.”
Ximena was pregnant when she heard about New Moms from her counselor at Morton East High School. She joined our parent support group for pregnant and parenting Morton East students in May of 2021 because the other moms were just like her.
“They’re all teen moms – first time having a baby,” Ximena said. “We all have a connection because of our babies and how our bodies change.”
In July, Ximena was connected with one of New Moms’ doulas (also known as a birth coach) in preparation for the birth of her son. Ximena said she really liked her doula, Mary, because she worked with Ximena’s entire family. Mary even taught Ximena’s boyfriend breathing techniques so he could help support Ximena during labor.
Unexpectedly in August, Ximena had an emergency C-section and, after 17 hours of labor, gave birth to her son Mateo. She said she was in so much pain that they had to put her to sleep after the birth which meant she had to wait to hold her new baby. She was very happy to have the support of her boyfriend and his mother while in the hospital.
Ximena said her first days home were stressful because Mateo kept crying. But with the guidance of her New Moms support team, both she and Mateo have settled into their life together. Her doula helped Ximena understand the changes to her body and mood from giving birth.
“It’s a really nice experience to have someone to help when you have questions and ask how you’re feeling,” Ximena said.
With the support of her older sister and parents, Ximena started going back to class and graduated with her high school diploma in June 2022! She got to share the moment with Mateo, who is now 9 months old. Her goal is to start college and she’s figuring out what she wants to study.
To other young moms Ximena says, “It’s hard to have a baby but when you see your baby, you’ll know it’s all worth it. Live your life for your baby. Not every mom can have a baby and God gave us a baby for a reason.”
Yanin joined New Moms’ family support program when her son, Mateo, was four months old. She was referred to by her Doula at Advocate Health Care and was paired up with Family Support Specialist Ayeshah.
She said she loves her weekly home visits because Ayeshah has taken the time to get to know her and Mateo – even remembering that Mateo has acid reflux and tailoring parent-child activities specifically for him. Yanin said the best part about the Family Support program is that it has helped her bond with her son.
“The program helps me get closer to him,” said Yanin, who is 21 years old. “Because some days being so busy with school and coming home to take care of him, sometimes it makes me feel a little distant not only from him but just everyone. And I feel like New Moms just helps me get out of that and be there for my son more.”
Recently, Yanin and Ayeshah have been working on how to introduce race to Mateo and reflecting on Yanin’s own feelings about race and racial injustice.
“Mateo is African American and Puerto Rican so that’s why it’s so important to have those conversations,” Yanin said.
Through her time with New Moms, Yanin has realized not to be so hard on herself when it comes to her role as a mother.
“I learned that I’m a good mom,” Yanin said. “Because you feel like you have to do everything perfect, but you know sometimes you are going to have bad days with the baby. Sometimes you are going to get frustrated and that’s okay.”
She said Ayeshah has shown her how to calm herself in those moments and helped her find ways to calm Mateo down when he’s throwing one of his tantrums.
Right now, Yanin is finishing courses at an esthetician school and said she enjoys what she’s learning because every day brings something new like full facials, laser treatments, or waxing. Once she finishes school, her goal is to start her own business.
To other moms thinking about joining a New Moms program, Yanin said would “absolutely” recommend it.
“It’s such a fun program! But you’re not only doing this for fun you’re getting rewarded at the same time – through the diaper program and the support packages they give every month. Yeah, it’s just amazing. It helps you bond with your baby especially as a young mother. Because life is different when you’re very young and you don’t have a lot of responsibilities. It teaches you to be responsible for you and your baby. I like it a lot. I didn’t even know they had programs like this.”
The night before her high school graduation, Yesenia (who goes by Yesi) stayed up making graduation caps for herself and her son, Xadrian. Her pink cap was decorated with two baby photos of Xadrian and said, “Mommy did it!” while Xadrian’s smaller blue cap said, “Mami did it for me!”
At the graduation ceremony, Yesi and Xadrian wore their matching cap and gowns to celebrate. Yesi said her son is the biggest reason she graduated from high school. She said he motivated her “to do better.”
“I was going through a hard time for a while and I kind of gave up on school but then I was like, ‘you know what, I got to go to school. I have to go somewhere after graduation,’” said Yesi, who is 18 years old. “I just had to put my mindset on school and finish it for my baby.”
Yesi found out she was pregnant because she started feeling sick. At first, she was worried she had COVID-19 and went to the emergency room. However, when she was sent home, she took a pregnancy test which came back positive. She told her mom who then took her to the doctor for her first check-up.
She was referred to New Moms by her doctor and was paired with one of our Doulas, also known as birth coaches, during her pregnancy. After the birth of her son, Yesi started working with Precious, a New Moms Family Support Specialist (FSS). Yesi said Precious also helped motivate her to focus on school, sending her inspirational quotes and encouraging her to do her homework.
Yesi said she has learned a lot from New Moms especially about childhood development. She now knows what milestones Xadrian should reach as he grows which is really helpful. She enjoys sharing this knowledge with other moms and has even referred a friend to New Moms!
Throughout her pregnancy and parenthood journey, Yesi has had the support of her coaches, family, and partner. She wants other young moms to feel that same love that she’s felt.
“Know that you’re worth it,” Yesi said. “Even if you have a child, it doesn’t mean that you’ve ruined your life. You’re good.”
Now that she has graduated, Yesi is looking towards the future. She wants to become a real estate agent and eventually own her own home. She recently started a handmade jewelry business and is using her artistic abilities to make money and save for real estate license classes.
“I can say at the age of 44, New Moms was one of the best opportunities to be a part of. It was just great. The friendships that were made are still here all these years later. I still think about things I’ve learned and was able to get through – I went through a lot while at New Moms – and the support that was there from the ladies that ran the program.”
Lakeisha came to New Moms around 1993 when she was 16 years old. She had a few friends in the New Moms’ parent support group who brought her along to some of the meetings. (Back then there was only one parent support group and it met on Wednesday evenings.) Lakeisha remembers that there was a group of moms who would walk to the meetings together. After school, they would all pick up their kids and on the way to New Moms they would stop by the park for a bit so the kids could let out their energy.
She said the best part about New Moms’ program was the support system it provided. She developed friendships with the other moms and found a mother-figure in the New Moms coaches.
“I didn’t have the type of support the ladies at New Moms gave me at home,” said Lakeisha, whose own mother had her at 14. “I didn’t have a motherly figure that I felt comfortable speaking with or talking with.”
The coaches at New Moms provided emotional support for Lakeisha when she went through two adoptions during her time in the program. She said no one knew she was pregnant at the time except for the folks at New Moms.
“I don’t know if I really would have gotten through that without going to New Moms,” said Lakeisha, who gave two sons up for adoption. “New Moms helped me get through that and out of the abusive relationship that I was in. They helped me feel like an adult as opposed to feeling like a little girl.”
Lakeisha now lives on the South Side in the Oak Wood Area and has been working in the field of Transportation and Logistics for nine years. She recently completed Spa School and would like to transition into a career in Wellness and Beauty. She is the proud mother of seven sons and one three-year-old daughter.
To young moms currently enrolled with New Moms Lakeisha says, “Take this program and make the best out of it. Take these sisterhoods and make the best out of it.”
She said in her experience, it’s important to “stay positive about the situation” because even if life is full of struggles right now, that doesn’t mean the struggles are going to last.
“Be kind to yourself and be kind to your kids,” Lakeisha said. “And keep going. If you need help, ask for it.”
Meet Tabitha! Tabitha is a former New Moms resident and Job Training alumnus who is now working at Northwestern Hospital and finishing her Bachelor’s degree in accounting.
Tabitha’s story is an exciting example of how supporting young moms helps to build strong families. And that is why New Moms exists — to shine a light on a path forward for young moms and help them find stability, gain a community, and grow in confidence as they lead their families.
After losing her job at a local restaurant, Tabitha found out she was pregnant and soon became homeless. For a few months, Tabitha was staying with friends but felt like she needed more help during her pregnancy.
She was eventually connected with New Moms during her stay at the La Casa Norte shelter. Through New Moms’ housing program, Tabitha gained a safe home to raise her newborn daughter and focus on her next steps.
“New Moms gave me a stable place where I didn’t have to worry about safety, will I have heat, or all that other stuff,” said Tabitha, who was 23 when she was referred to New Moms. “I had stability in my life while I was able to change my own life.”
During her time in our two-year transitional housing, Tabitha also enrolled in New Moms’ Job Training program. Through her work experience at our social enterprise, Bright Endeavors, Tabitha learned how to communicate and receive feedback in a professional workplace.
“It challenged me to learn how to address the situation more professionally — not just screaming, yelling “Raw, raw!” Tabitha laughed. “I had to learn how to say how I felt about the situation and how I wanted to resolve it. But it also gave me confidence in myself.”
At the end of her time at Bright Endeavors, New Moms staff member Ashlee Krawczyk helped Tabitha apply to a career development program called YearUp. The program provided Tabitha with skill training and a pathway to corporate internships with potential for placement. Tabitha was then placed at Northwestern Hospital as a Research Administrator intern.
Tabitha embraced the challenging experience as a critical stepping stone to a long-term career path. She said while the program and her internship at Northwestern Hospital were difficult, she felt supported and encouraged to see it through.
“When it came to YearUp, I saw a lot of people who want to change or want to get out of the situation they’re in,” Tabitha said. “Everybody there has something they want to do, and I did too. When classes got hard, we all studied and shared notes. When somebody was ready to quit, we all gave encouraging words.”
After her YearUp internship, Tabitha was offered a full-time position at Northwestern in Research and Administration as an Account Specialist. She said she knew Northwestern was a good fit for her because she was allowed to be herself in the office. She doesn’t feel like she has to look a certain way or speak in a certain way to be accepted.
“I’m a little loud, I’m a little bubbly, I wear bright colors,” Tabitha said. “I don’t have to put on a fake voice or talk a certain way to [work at Northwestern]. I can just be myself.”
After her two years with New Moms, Tabitha has a steady job and career path, she has found a safe and stable home, and continues to focus on being a great mom to her daughter.
“I want her to grow up and understand that she can do whatever she wants to do,” Tabitha said. “I want her to know that, “I’m going to support you in whatever you do. Even if you fail and hit the ground. I will be there to help you get back up. Just try for yourself.””
Tabitha said her next steps are to complete her Bachelor’s degree in business and pursue an MBA. However, Tabitha also has a passion for baking, and so her long-term goal is to expand her home bakery business and open her own walk-up bakery.
“At this point in life, my goal for myself is to finish school,” Tabitha said. “I would like to keep growing and eventually get to a point where I’m stable in my life and in my income where I can go back to my passion for culinary.”
Tabitha said she’s learned a lot about herself during the last couple of years. She said reflecting back, she realized how much determination it took to get where she is today.
“My journey of losing my job, being homeless, being in the shelter, it all started back November 17, 2016 when I lost my job,” Tabitha said. “I didn’t feel done with my struggle until [this] December when I got my job. Nothing is going to happen overnight. Nothing worth having is easy. So, it was going to be a process – what I did.”
Not only does Tabitha look to her own accomplishments for inspiration, she also looks to them for reassurance when she experiences struggle. Tabitha said she tries not to worry about what the future might hold because she’s confident her drive will help her find resources and overcome potential challenges — like what she found at New Moms
“I feel like if I fall down again or something happens in my life where I’m at square one again, I know I’m strong enough to get back,” Tabitha said. “I know I’ll do whatever it takes. No matter what it is.”
Denise was born and raised in Chicago. At 19 years old, she was living with her two children in a shelter for families before being referred to New Moms in 1998. She still remembers her fully furnished, New Moms apartment which was located in the Humboldt Park neighborhood.
While in the program, Denise finished high school and graduated from South Suburban Community College. She said the support she received from New Moms coaches was an important reason she was able to pursue her education.
“I just thought that I wouldn’t be able to ever finish,” Denise said. “I just thought that I would be a statistic and a dropout, so my biggest achievement was being able to go back to school and actually get a degree.”
She said her favorite memory from New Moms was the Christmas Store. During the annual participant Christmas party, moms could play games to win tickets which they redeemed at the Christmas store for gifts for themselves and their kids. She said her first year, the store was a surprise to the moms. They thought they were just playing games for fun. When it was revealed they could shop for Christmas presents, they were all so excited.
Denise is now married and the mother of four children. She is happy to say her two oldest girls have both graduated from college with their Bachelor’s degrees. Denise herself had gone back to school and is studying nursing at Ambria College of Nursing.
She is still in touch with other New Moms alumni. She said they bonded while attending Parent Support Groups together. In fact, a group of them would walk over from their apartments to the main New Moms’ building every week for their meeting.
To current young moms, Denise said that she knows how challenging it can be but, “set those goals and you’ll succeed.” She said she learned so much about herself while at New Moms and was proud of finishing school and starting her career.
Adrienne first joined New Moms program in 1995. She was a senior in high school and pregnant when her acquaintance Sabrina brought her to one of our Family Support Groups. She took a break from the program when her daughter died but later reconnected with New Moms when she had her second child in 1997.
What she remembers most from her time at New Moms are the outings coaches planned for participants. She said each year, New Moms would organize a weekend retreat to Timberland Camp for all the young moms. She said she also remembers being connected with a sister organization called “Literature for All of Us” the held creative writing retreats.
A few years ago, Adrienne moved to Georgia with her family. She is now the mother of two daughters and one son all of which have graduated high school. Adrienne herself has gone back to college because her employer is paying for technology certifications. She is hoping this training will allow her to climb the professional ladder at her company.
Adrienne said she is a firm believer that you are the sum of your experiences and that all her hard lessons and blessings prepared her for where she is now. If she could go back in time, she would tell her younger self, “You will learn and grow. So, hang in there, it will all make sense.”
To current moms at New Moms, she encouraged them to ask for help and not be afraid of judgment or rejection. She said, “If you need it, say something because resources and programs lose funding if no one utilizes them.” She wants all moms to take advantage of the resources available to them and to spread the word to their friends and families.
Adrienne is excited to see how much New Moms has grown over the years and would like to connect with other alumni and give back to the current group of young moms.
New Moms (Chicago)
5317 W. Chicago Ave.
Chicago, IL 60651
New Moms (Western Suburbs)
206 Chicago Avenue
Oak Park, IL 60302