I resided at the Cradle of Hope in 2004 with my son. I was a teenage mother with a young sick child and still in high school. (My son was four months premature.) At the Cradle I finished my high school education at Cheltenham high school and I learned more parenting and life skills along the way that I carry with me forever. When I left the Cradle, I got my own apartment in Germantown that the Cradle helped me to furnish through IMPACT thrift shop. I began taking courses to get a certificate as a nursing assistant while I volunteered part time at a daycare and worked at a clothing store. Life hasn’t been easy but I have tons of support and my faith which has helped me make it to where I am today. Another big help was the foundation set from living at the Cradle of Hope in regards to parenting and life skills. Today my son is 13 and is as healthy as can be. I now live in Montgomery County because I want to give him a great education as my mother did for me. I pride myself on being a great mother to my son! I graduated on May 2, 2015 with my associates in behavioral health and graduated in December 2016 with my bachelors in social work from Alvernia University. Currently, I am a certified domestic violence counselor and I intern at the Women’s Center of Montgomery County. The Cradle has helped me and now I want to help other women who are struggling in our community.
I came across Cradle of Hope through a google search made out of desperation. There was some slight hesitation in calling to set up an interview. My situation brought me embarrassment. Was I ready to live with strangers and abide by rules? At the time, I was 30 weeks pregnant and homelessness was creeping up on me. I had no other safe or viable housing options. I called and scheduled for an interview. After a short stay at the Blessed Margaret home, I moved to the Cradle a month after my daughter was born. Betsy, the director at the time, graciously accepted my daughter and me. Things quickly seemed to fall into place thereafter.
Cradle of Hope is comfortable, cozy and located in a safe neighborhood. All of these things are essential when you have a child. I started working on my first goal shortly after moving in: employment. I began working at Every Good Gift, a local Christian ministry where mothers can bring their children to work. Jill Page, the Director, is a wonderful woman. The volunteers and pastors I met through that organization helped strengthen my weakened faith. Another good thing about working with Every Good Gift is that I was able to express some creativity through the gifts we made for local church sales. Another positive aspect of working there was that I could bring my baby to work. After a few months of working part-time, I applied for the Red Cross’s Nursing Assistant program, free of tuition, and I was accepted. It opened doors for employment beyond minimum wage. My experience as a CNA has allotted me a breadth of experience and opportunities for learning how to provide excellent health care. Cradle of Hope also helped with applications for subsidized housing, saving money, driving lessons and obtaining childcare.
Now in my last few months at the home, I can say that I have faith in a better future for my daughter and me. I’ve been able to formulate plans and overcome emotional obstacles with the help of mentors and friends. If you ever find yourself a homeless single mother in a situation similar to mine, there are options and there is hope. You grow from the situations that arise when you live with others, and if anything, it further propels you to move forward. I am forever grateful for my time here.
First-time mothers can have very many differences. Age, background, life experiences, single, married, high school dropout or college graduate. But all have one thing in common: the unconditional love they have for their child. Every mother at The Cradle of Hope has one other thing in common, a dream. To have a good life and a better life for herself and her child. The Cradle of Hope taught us that our dreams are achievable, and also taught us the life skills we needed in order to achieve those dreams.
Everyday is scheduled and follows a routine. Cooking and cleaning chores were rotated every week. This taught us structure while at the same time showing us teamwork skills. Every night we would sit down together and have dinner. The COH also offered us lots of spiritual guidance and advice about the personal aspects of our life. And there was always an ear to listen and a shoulder to lean on. They also taught us how to be independent, strong women. Many times you hit a road block with something and you keep trying until you achieve the goal you wanted.
When I arrived at The Cradle my son was 4 1/2 months old. I started out with practically nothing but my hopes and my dreams. He is now 2 1/2 years old. Now, I have my own vehicle and my own apartment. I went to school, graduated, and now work as a CNA. My son attends daycare regularly. He has many friends and enjoys going there and all the activities they do. I also still have a strong and continuous walk with the Lord. I continue to work hard and enjoy life. I also learned not to stop at just one dream, to keep going way past the limit of the stars in our sky into a whole other galaxy. Whatever you dream you can achieve. I plan on going back to school to continue my education even further.
The Cradle of Hope made it all possible with a foundation of love and guidance. We all have our differences. But the Cradle brought us all together as a group. The other mothers and I are still friends, but also so much more. We are sisters, we are a family.
T.M. completed her year at the Cradle of Hope in July 2010 and moved to her own apartment with her son, J.