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Tee's Journey

Rising Above Challenges with YSB Programs "Young Moms" and "Porch Light"

Tee's life journey has been nothing short of challenging. She faced adversity from a young age. Her mother's incarceration and her father's struggles with addiction left Tee bouncing between the homes of family friends and extended relatives. From the tender age of five until she turned 18, she lived with countless people, never knowing when she would be uprooted again. The idea of “home” eluded her throughout her formative years.

Despite the circumstances, Tee's determination and resilience grew. She managed to graduate from high school, even achieving a ranking in the top third of her class. Holding down two jobs while helping care for her older sister's children, Tee found herself in a relentless cycle of couch-surfing, never having a place to truly call her own.

At 19, Tee's life took a significant turn when she learned she was expecting a child with her boyfriend at the time. While the prospect of motherhood filled her with hope, the road ahead was uncertain. Her family had abandoned her, and she had lost her mother just a few years earlier. Her income from two jobs at the time was insufficient to secure a stable home for her and her child. It was during this challenging period that Tee heard about the Youth Service Bureau's "Young Moms Self-Sufficiency Program" (Young Moms).

The YSB Young Moms program, a beacon of hope for young mothers facing adversity, offers a pathway to self-sufficiency and provides essential support. The program is open to pregnant or parenting mothers and fathers in St. Joseph County, ages 16+. Upon learning about the program, Tee wasted no time and reached out to see if she qualified.

Fortunately, Tee met the program's criteria, marking the beginning of her transformative journey. YSB arranged a comfortable two-bedroom apartment for Tee, ensuring she had the comfort and resources she needed during her pregnancy. The apartment was thoughtfully furnished with essential items, sparing Tee the daunting task of starting from scratch. This support filled the void left by absent family members, providing Tee with a sense of stability she had never known.

Determined to provide for her baby, Tee continued working both jobs throughout her pregnancy. She held a job at a floral shop, which she adored, and worked at a daycare, all while walking to and from work every day due to her lack of transportation.

As a participant in the YSB Young Moms Self-Sufficiency program, and later the Porch Light transitional living program, Tee attended daily group therapy sessions. While attending therapy each day wasn't always easy, Tee remained steadfast, finding solace in the shared experiences of her fellow participants.

One staff member who made a significant impact on Tee's journey was her YSB Case Manager, Danica. Danica's empathy and understanding of the economic hardships young mothers face resonated with Tee. She didn't downplay life's challenges; instead, she offered guidance and support while acknowledging the difficulties. Danica's respect and recognition of Tee's potential as a young mother played a crucial role in boosting Tee's self-esteem and motivation.

When Tee brought her baby daughter home from the hospital, the YSB Porch Light Program apartment was her haven. It provided her with the pride of offering her child a separate bed and her own space, ensuring both mother and baby could rest peacefully. YSB staff helped Tee navigate the challenges of new motherhood, offering guidance and encouragement. Tee emphasizes the importance of YSB's support, saying, "YSB will help you. They will be hard on you at times, but if you want to get yourself together, then go for it."

Today, Tee's baby daughter thrives. She exudes joy, curiosity, and boundless energy. Tee, now living independently in her own furnished apartment, reflects on her journey with pride and gratitude. She has learned valuable life skills, such as applying for college, jobs, and filing taxes—an ability she'll carry with her forever. YSB also connected Tee to the benefits of other community resources like Healthy Families of St. Joseph County, where a parent educator visits bi-weekly to provide one-on-one guidance on child development, nutrition, and stress management.

As Tee embarks on her path towards success, pursuing a Bachelor's Degree in Criminal Justice with aspirations of becoming a Criminal Defense Attorney, she sets her sights on achieving her lifelong goals. She advises her daughter and others to "shoot for the stars" and to never give up on their dreams.

Tee's story shows the power of personal resilience when connected to the unwavering support provided by programs like the YSB Young Moms Self-Sufficiency Program. Her journey from instability to independence is a shining example of what is possible when young mothers are given the resources and encouragement they need to succeed.

With 175 young mothers participating in the YSB Young Moms program each year, there is no doubt that countless lives are being transformed, just like Tee's. As she looks back, Tee says she could not put her gratitude for YSB into words. “YSB can do a lot for you. Even if it’s just when you need help with diapers or wipes or getting milk. They know where to point you in the right direction. They don’t waste your time. Just don’t waste theirs.”

Youth Service Bureau, with its unwavering support and guidance, has helped Tee rewrite her life story, giving her the tools she needs to succeed. Tee's journey is a testament to the potential within each young person, waiting to be unlocked with the right support and opportunities.

Help youth like Tee write their own story by donating to YSB.

To support YSB's Young Moms Self Sufficiency and Porch Light programs, view our online giving page or contact our CEO, Christina McGovern for more options. We rely on the generosity of donors like you to make successful life stories like Tee's possible.

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