Chicks team with Mom’s House to help young moms succeedWritten by Ashley McMahon | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Each year, more than 700 teen girls give birth in Lucas County, according to the Ohio Department of Health.
Having a child drastically changes these young women’s lives and many do not have the support they needed to keep their goals on track. In addition, negative stereotypes often add a stigma to teen pregnancy that can make it difficult for women to overcome obstacles.
Given these challenges, one local charity aims to change that narrative and improve the lives of teen moms in Northwest Ohio.
Mom’s House is a Toledo nonprofit that assists mothers aged13-24 while they raise their children. It was recently named the 2015-16 next charity recipient by Chicks for Charity.
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Founded 21 years ago, Mom’s House offers 30 women and children highly rated childhood education and adult classes, which leaders hope will break the cycle of poverty.
“We play the mom role, but also teach our girls how to be a mom to their child,” Mom’s House Executive Director Christina Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez’s enthusiastic spirit is contagious and it’s obvious how much she cares about the family members she’s gained while running the organization.
“We really treat the children like they’re our own and it’s a big family,” she said. “It’s so rewarding.”
While enrolled in the program, children receive a four-star-rated preschool education; 90 percent of the children are ready to test into kindergarten afterward, Rodriquez said. In addition, the mothers take classes to learn about home safety, healthy relationships, family wellness and parenting techniques. The Mom’s House team also assists with child care while the mothers attend classes at local high schools and colleges.
Brittney Goldi, 28, is a graduate of Mom’s House and credits her success to the organization’s staff. Aside from assisting with her child, they were there when Goldi’s mother died.
“They were my counselors and the first people I would call when I had an issue,” Goldi said. “They took on the bereavement role for me.”
Goldi gave birth to her son Jeremy when she was 17 years old. She was still in high school and had a difficult time finding babysitters and overall emotional support while raising her newborn son.
After connecting with Mom’s House, she enrolled in the program and quickly found the assistance she needed. Thanks to her new “family,” Goldi began classes at Owens Community College and finished her nursing degree at Mercy College of Ohio, graduating in 2010.
“They really were my family. I didn’t have the support I needed to take care of my son before, and they helped me outside of regular hours and were more than willing to go above and beyond,” Goldi said.
Goldi is now a palliative care coordinator for Mercy. She’s also married, having met her husband during her time at Mom’s House. The organization also helped him earn his degree and start a career as a booking officer for Lucas County. She and her husband are now proud parents to three boys.
After all of Goldi’s success, she makes sure to give back to Mom’s House and recently spoke during the group’s presentation to Chicks for Charity as a finalist for the Chicks’ next charity recipient. After four years of applying, Goldi’s Cinderella story won the Chicks over and led them to choose Mom’s House for its new charity.
“This was a big win for us,” Rodriguez said.
Every two years, Chicks for Charity selects a new nonprofit initiative to support.
“All 501(c)(3) official groups in Northwest Ohio that are small, under the radar and willing to work with us to get word out are eligible,” said Martha Vetter, founder of Chicks for Charity.
The Chicks recently wrapped up their work with Shared Lives Studio, raising $115,000 over the past two years.
Vetter said Goldi and the Mom’s House presenters made a lasting impact on the more than 80 members of Chicks, which led to their decision.
“They told raw and personal stories,” Vetter said. “It was really moving and wonderful.”
The Chicks will meet with members of the Mom’s House board in January and begin the initiative, but Vetter said it’s up to the nonprofit to decide where to use the funding.
As for joining the Chicks, Vetter said anyone can become a member as long as you plan something “fun.”
“Any chick at any age can join. Just plan a fun and unique event with your family or coworkers and raise at least $75 to give to the charity,” Vetter said. “Anyone can give a little, and it will add up to a lot.”
Rodriguez is planning on using the extra funds from Chicks to develop the group’s family wellness and mentoring programs. One of the new projects includes Mom’s House work with attorney Gretchen DeBacker. They are working with 14 female attorneys for the new Sisters in Law initiative, which assists young mothers with legal issues.
“Many women are involved with legal battles that are hard to navigate and these women can build relationships and assist them,” Rodriguez said.
In addition, the attorneys can help the Mom’s House students prepare for job interviews by building strong resumes and providing tips for proper work attire.
The extra funding and exposure from Chicks for Charity will allow Rodriguez and her team at Mom’s House to continue allowing young moms like Goldi to keep following their goals to success.
“They’ve always been my support system and they’re always there,” Goldi said. “The women at Mom’s House are amazing. They took me from being a pregnant teen mom to being a palliative care coordinator.”
“We can’t do it all, but we definitely see the cycle of poverty being broken,” Rodriguez said.