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'New Moms' empowers adolescent parents

About 40 families just moved into new homes in the Austin neighborhood and for many, it's the first time they have ever had a place to call their own.
March 29, 2014 9:01:01 PM PDT
About 40 families just moved into new homes in the Austin neighborhood and for many, it's the first time they have ever had a place to call their own.

This toddler is too young to understand the struggles his moms may be facing to provide his basic needs or that a group called "New Moms" is helping to ease her burden.

"New Moms is a non-profit organization that empowers, enables and equips adolescent parents ages 13-24 who are either homeless or living in poverty," said President and CEO Laura Zumdahl. "Although teenage pregnancy rates as a whole in our country have dropped a little bit, we don't see that necessarily in communities of real poverty like we are here in Chicago."

Eighteen-year-old Kijana Ewing and her two children were living in a shelter when she was approved for housing in the organization's new "Transformation Center."

"Coming from that situation to this, it's a blessing," she said. "I never had my own apartment. It was always a room. Now I have my own little space: a kitchen, bathroom and everything."

"I was so excited about being here and having my own," said Transformation Center President Nicole Martinez. "It was amazing. It's just that security of knowing you don't have to be on the street no more."

Participants also get supportive services including case management and job readiness classes.

"I'm in school because of my case worker here," Ewing said. "She got me in school. How they push us is so inspiring. They push me like to do better."

The organization also works to help boost self-esteem and instill self-worth.

"Eighty percent of the young women who come to New Moms have been victims of domestic violence or sexual abuse and an average of a fourth grade reading level," Zumdahl said. "We try to change that story from dependence on society to how they can be economically independent and create new life for their child."

Families can live at the Transformation Center for up to two years. New Moms soon will be opening a child care center on-site.

www.NewMomsInc.org


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