Groups teach young mothers to work green

August 27, 2010 (CHICAGO) They say they are helping the planet while improving their own lives.

Two organizations have one goal: to help struggling young mothers to become self-sufficient. The women who benefit say they are renewing their spirits, while learning to "Live Green."

Career-readiness training takes place at an organization called New Moms, which offers supportive services to 13 to 21-year-old mothers and their children who are homeless or at-risk of homelessness.

"We also work with them on parenting, financial literacy. We work with them on life skills, anything that they need in order to become responsible contributing citizens and great parents," said Audalee Mcloughlin, President and CEO of New Moms.

After completing the four-week course, moms move on to Bright Endeavors for four weeks. It's a social enterprise that provides green jobs training.

"We hand-pour our candles. So, we learn how to measure the wax and scents and the temperatures," student Onely Onofre said.

The product line is called "Dreambean Candles." The candles are made from soy and vegetable waxes. The containers are re-purposed wine and soda bottles -- even baby jars. They also use a compostable pot made from rice hulls.

"I feel happy because I made these candles and just to see somebody else likes them, it makes me feel good," said Kyarai Harris, 20.

Organizers stress the venture isn't just about the products, though. It's all helping young women out of a cycle of poverty.

"We also look at how can we move them toward permanent placement. What companies can we reach out to say we have motivated moms ready to contribute to the workplace?" said Stephanie Wernet, co-founder, of Bright Endeavors.

"This program has actually paid for my GED, which I just passed," said 24-year-old Melissa Warren. "They helped me get glasses. It's not just that they help me with work, they help me outside of work also."

New Moms plans to break ground on a brand new residential facility in the Austin neighborhood this fall. They will be able to offer apartments to 40 homeless young mothers and their children. They are trying to raise an additional $300,000 so they can include a day care center on site.

For more details about the project, please visit and

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