YoungMoms is Making a Difference in Southern Chester County
The program has been able to help teen moms adapt and thrive in their community for over 9 years.
On Saturday, March 7, YoungMoms held its annual Brunch and Silent Auction event. It was hosted at the Willowdale Chapel in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. The event was for members of the community to gather and hear teen moms share the impact the program has had on their life. It was also an opportunity for the community to learn how it can invest in the program– either financially or as a volunteer.
The auction on March 7 was one of their largest events in the history of the program and it was sold out. During the event, there were different opportunities to contribute besides the silent action. They had raffles and a wine pull which attracted almost all of the attendees.
Some members gave testimonies of how they have been able to obtain their diplomas and continued getting an education, while other program graduates spoke of their now-successful careers. For example, one of the graduates’ companies catered the dessert portion of the brunch.
Before YoungMoms became what it is today, teen mothers in the community struggled to get by and find a place where they felt like they belonged.
It started in 2010 as a program at The Garage, Youth & Community Center. There were a couple of pregnant students and The Garage recognized they needed additional support beyond what an after school program usually provides. An intern who was working on her master’s degree started the program with another employee. They developed the program, ran it and grew over the years.
In 2013, Linda Mercner took over as the executive director while it was still an independent program. Three years later, YoungMoms officially started running as a 501(c)(3), or a non-profit organization. They had to draft bylaws and form a board of directors to run the program.
It was created with the mission to inspire young moms to build thriving futures for themselves and their families. There are three goals to the program:
- Help the young moms achieve their academic and employment goals
- Teach them life and parenting skills
- Help them grow in self-esteem and feel part of a community and give support
In other words, to equip them with life parenting skills to help them grow as women and mothers to feel more confident and build a more stable future. The moms are in the program for 2-4 years – which gives them an opportunity to build a trusting relationship.
They are supervised by a case manager and are also paired with a mentor from the community. These volunteers range in age from 28 and over, not necessarily people who have had children, but they all offer something different to teach.
These mentors are also there to offer friendship and help someone achieve their life goals, constantly checking up and motivating them in their daily life.
Most of these women have had adverse childhood experiences, traumatic situations in their life, or dealt with abandonment. The program teaches them how to overcome obstacles, work around them or through them before they give up. They learn to advocate for themselves in situations as simple as making a phone call or at school and in the workplace.
Girls come from referrals either from schools, health institutions or from a friend going through the same situation. The requirements for them to join is to be 21 or younger, expecting or already a mom, and have to be from southern Chester county.
They host club nights where they offer workshops for the girls, where they teach them valuable skills, career development, nutrition, finance, among other things. This is also an opportunity for all the young moms to get together once a month and bring their children along.
The program had 108 volunteers in the past year that help with basic necessities, home projects, driving the girls to and from school, and to appointments. The number of participants grew to 42 and they were able to meet 45 times for club nights and other events.
More information about this program is available on their website.