Shay arrived at Our Mother’s Home when she was 17 and a few weeks pregnant. She suffered from PTSD, depression and anxiety. She had partial hearing loss and a learning disability.
She had been in several foster homes and had been abused. She was traumatized, had no consistent home or support system and was failing in school. The Department of Children and Families had deemed her unfit to care for her baby and planned to take the baby into custody after birth.
Her past experiences made her leery of anyone offering to help but while living at Our Mother’s Home, she attended therapy and participated in the Mentor Living Program. She gave birth to a baby girl and completed the Nurturing Parent Program while maintaining a B average in school with great attendance. She was impregnated by rape and chose life and love for her baby.
Now, at 18 years old, she has maintained custody of her daughter and continues to demonstrate positive parenting skills. She is scheduled to graduate high school in May. She has accomplished more than she had ever imagined to be possible.
“When I needed someone to call mother, you’ve provided me with love, warmth and trust,” Shay wrote in a letter to Executive Director Karen Watson. “At times when I felt at my lowest, you picked me up and lifted me higher above the mountain top…I love how you can make this cruel world seem like a beautiful place…”
Shay graduated from High School in 2019. Something she thought would never happen.
Dorthy arrived at OMH in 2014 pregnant just days before turning 17 years old. She was placed into foster care at age 8 years old after her father was caught sexually abusing her by a family member. Before arriving at Our Mother’s Home she had been placed in over ten foster group homes. At her last placement before arriving she became pregnant. She was given option of abortion or she would have to leave and needed to quit school to get a GED and/or job to care for baby.
When she arrived at Our Mother’s Home, we celebrated her birthday and gave several options of schooling. She stated “No one has ever given me so many options and no one has ever celebrated my birthday.” While at OMH, she received therapy, parenting classes, life skills, and other activities for social enrichment, as well as a safe and affordable child care. She obtained her high school diploma, and applied for Florida Southwestern College. Dorthy attended Grad Nite and Prom – something she thought she was not worthy of or able to do.
Dorthy says “Everybody has a family but I don’t consider my family, my family. Our Mother’s Home has become my family. They care about me and my baby. I was so afraid when I arrived and didn’t know anything about having a baby or being a mom. They have taught me how to be the best mother I can.”
In October 2015, she moved into her own apartment while remaining in extended foster care and started college in December 2015.
“Good morning Ms. Karen,
I wanna thank you for all your patient you had on me at OMH thank you for ignoring the fade I went during my last few months. And i also wanna thank you for everything I’ve learned while being in OMH. Because everything I learned are now being put into test in the real world.
I now see how much you guys had helped me with getting my daughter to and from daycare, and making sure she gets to her appointments and also making sure I get to where I need to be. And another thing I’ve learn from the home was budgeting and those skills I learned I’m also putting it into use right now. If you and Ms. Joan, Ms. Sharon hadn’t started the weekly store I wouldn’t of never learned how to budget my money and get all the things I need not want.
Sometime I wish I was still 16, 17 and taking full advantage of everything you guys had offered to me at the home. Me being at OMH play a big part of my outcome now. And the parenting skills I learned from each and everybody (Ms. Taresa) at OMH I will always take it with me and use it.
Once again thank you Ms. Karen!!”
My name is Christina Sevenski and I am currently 18 years old, I have a daughter named Natalie who just turned 2. Natalie and I were both born in Fort Myers FL; I became pregnant with Natalie at the age of 15 and gave birth to her when I was 16. During my pregnancy I lived with my dad, however my dad was very disappointed in me when he found out at first he didn’t want me to keep Natalie throughout my whole pregnancy my dad was constantly telling me how hard my life was going to be because I was choosing to have a baby, but I never cared cause I knew from day one that I wanted to keep her.
After Natalie was born my dad opened up and he loves Natalie but that didn’t stop us from arguing, he ended up losing his home, my grandma said that my dad and the rest of our family could stay with her but me and my daughter wasn’t welcome. Along with my dad’s side of the family when they all found out they were also disappointed in me they haven’t spoke to me since then nor have they met my daughter so that left me and my newborn baby without a place to go, my mom wasn’t an option because she had lost custody of me due to drug use.
I asked a friend to stay with them and her mother agreed. I stayed with them for a while and they helped me when I needed it and I knew they cared about me and my daughter but I always felt like I didn’t belong I always felt hurt because I didn’t want to lose my daughter and I could never provide the things she needed.
While I was staying with my friends mother someone called DCF and made a couple false accusations, when they came they saw that I wasn’t living with my custodial parent whom I was supposed to be living with and being taken care of by my case worker could not contact my dad so I came to Our Mothers Home I arrived to Our Mothers Home on July 2,2013 when I was 17, My birthday was August 12 so that barely gave me a month I was worried because I thought that I was going to have to leave then and I knew that I had nowhere to stay , but Mrs. Karen came to me and told me that I could stay here and we made an agreement that I could stay until the age or nineteen I was happy when I found that out because I didn’t have to worry about things as much.
I chose to go into extended foster care, I know that I still need help and maybe a little guidance to get to where I want to be and I think this will help me to stay focused I also get to stay in my own apartment which I am so happy about and should be moving into soon, to me that’s a big step and I’m very thankful that I can finally live on my own with just me and my daughter.
Our Mothers home has helped me so much and I thank them for everything even though sometimes I don’t agree I am glad that someone made that call and caused me to be here because I know without their help and there constant nagging I wouldn’t be doing the most that I should have been doing I am now currently getting my G.E.D, my plans after that and even after I leave OMH is to attend ITT technical institute for a CNA in nursing and then continue on to Edison College to further on and be the person and the mother that I want to be to prove to everyone who said that I couldn’t do it that I can.
Sean arrived at Our Mother’s Home as an infant diagnosed with “failure to thrive” syndrome from lack of nurturing. Sean and his mother, a victim of Human Trafficking, had been separated for eleven months; she was forced to work in the fields while baby Sean laid swaddled on a wooden palette. When they were reunited at Our Mother’s Home, Sean was 21 months old, but functioned only at the level of a 6 month old.
He would not respond to external stimulation, nor would he smile or interact with us. He was unable to swallow properly, and suffered from severe epilepsy (seizures) and asthma. Within months at Our Mother’s Home, Sean began to “thrive” receiving the physical and speech therapy he so desperately needed to save his life. His doctors/specialists were amazed at his progress.
Now he rolls over, has discovered his hands and feet and responds to his name and sounds. He recognizes people, has a contagious laugh and a magnetic smile. He is able to chew and drink on his own; his seizures and asthma are under control. The staff at Our Mother’s Home has worked tirelessly to rehabilitate Sean while his mother learns to do the same.
What would the future cost to our community be if Our Mother’s Home weren’t here?
Eva had the deck stacked against her upon arriving at Our Mother’s Home. She conceived Jose against her will. At birth he was placed with different foster parents than Eva who was sent to live in a group foster home. There were no foster homes that could take foster mother and child together.
Eva got her first break when her tenacious caseworker found Our Mother’s Home. Shortly after, mother and son were elatedly reunited. Eva spoke only a Guatemalan dialect of Spanish and had very little formal education. After only 4 years of devotion to her studies, Eva was turning 18 and now spoke fluent English and enhanced Spanish; she was just one year away from graduating high school. It would have been easy for Eva to stumble.
Not yet graduated, but forced to be totally independent and with a young child. Once again Eva received the good fortune when a previous Board President of Our Mother’s Home offered her accommodation at their home while she completed high school. Eva passed her FCATs and fulfilled her long held dream to graduate high school.
Eva now has her own apartment, has a driver’s license, a car, and is utilizing a scholarship to Edison State College. Jose is in school thriving beyond words. Eva’s journey has been fraught with challenges but she has risen to all of them.
Where would she and her son be today without Our Mother’s Home?
Elizabeth’s biological parents were both addicted to crack, but thanks to you, she is thriving now at age 20, dedicated to raising her child in a home where love presides, above all.
Carmen never even knew how old she was but still had a baby. She was sexually abused by multiple family members but chose to keep her baby, conceived against her will.
OUR MOTHER’S HOME IS SPONSORED IN PART BY:
Florida Department of Children and Families
Children’s Network of Southwest Florida