HERO CENTRAL: St. Ann's Center for Children, Youth and Families Supports Young Moms

3:29 PM, Apr 22, 2013   |    comments
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HYATTSVILLE, Md. (WUSA 9) --- Jeremy is a precocious 2 year old. He eagerly serves make-believe food to his mom, Tina Gallagher.   

The 25-year-old working mother lives with Jeremy at Faith House, a transitional home for young mothers aged 18 to 25. The home is a part of St. Ann's Center for Children, Youth and Families, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing resources to raising children and families in need.  

Gallagher credits the center for providing a stable environment for the last two years. Without the center, "I would probably still be bouncing around from house to house."

While she was pregnant, Gallagher learned about Faith House through her grandparents.  For six months after Jeremy's birth, she admits she was hesitant to reach out for help. 

"In the beginning I was too proud to ask for help. That's why I waited for so long, I didn't want to ask. And then I just realized that you just can't do it by yourself. "

Today she lives in an apartment with her son inside Faith House. She shares a kitchen and common space with seven other mothers and their children. The average stay for a mom and child at Faith House is about 2 years.

"Many of the women who are in Faith House were homeless and have been homeless because they don't have supports," said Sister Mary Bader, CEO of St. Ann's Center for Children, Youth and Families

"They can't work because they don't have child care.  So they don't have a place to live. So we provide them with the support they will able them to either go to school and work towards a degree or some higher education."

Jeremy attends the center's daycare while Gallagher works or attends college classes.  The mother also participates in parenting classes offered by the center.

"I feel that I've grown a lot here. I feel that that my son has grown a lot. He's very outspoken. We know what we want. I want to finish school, I want to work. I'm moving toward being successful," Gallagher explained. She aspires to become a medical technician.

At Faith House Gallagher pays 30% of her income toward rent. The center also helps her budget her money, so she can prepare to move out with her son. 

"He's come a long way. He's had to do some physical therapy and stuff like that. St Ann's provided that for me. And I didn't have to go anywhere."

Currently, Faith House serves 16 mothers and children. In spring, 2013, the center plans to expand its support to more young mothers, according to Sister Bader.

NOTE: Gannett Foundation has provided a grant to St. Ann's Center for Children, Youth & Families.

Produced/Written by: Elizabeth Jia
9NEWS & WUSA9.com

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