Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Meet Precious

I know I said I was going to close out Youth Homeless Awareness Month, November, with two stories from two amazing teen moms who were homeless. However, I realized something very important, Youth Homelessness is NOT a month. Unfortunately it's a reality to several youth and teen moms in America. 

I went back to Covenant House and this time it was in the evening hours. A lot more mothers and
children where around and the atmosphere was like a "normal" after work/ school evening in any home.

I got to see and chat with Diamond while she was working on some things for the Candle Light Vigil. I also got to meet her daughter (whom I didn't meet last time) and a few of the staff. 
Diamond introduced me to another mother that is in the Right of Passage program, Precious. 

Precious and I sat down in the "living room" of the floor and got to talking.

I was 19 when I found I was pregnant, my father told me about Covenant House but I didn't listen. Emotionally I was all over the place. I only had tunnel vision for two things: Working to have enough money when my son got here and going to school. You know how it is when you're pregnant, you don't want to hear anything that will add more pressure and chaos to your life, especially to go to a shelter. I actually called here doing the whole "my friend bit" but still couldn't make myself come.

My pregnancy was crazy! I was working as much as possible as a hostess at Applebees which meant I was on my feet all day, going to school taking 6 classes and trying to figure out my living situation. 
I lived with my son's father's family for a  little bit but space was limited and our relationship was strained. I was five months when I moved out into a different place, a one bedroom apartment with five people, I soon realized I couldn't stay there. My son would've been the sixth person living there and that was impossible to imagine let alone let happen. My friend and her family helped me find a place. 

They knew this women who had an illegal basement apartment. Although it was illegal it was a place, the only thing that stopped me was the price. The women wanted $600 a month. I told her that I couldn't do that much and we agreed on $500. I moved all my stuff into her place and that was my sanctuary whenever I wasn't at work or school of course. I was working during the day in the Bronx, going to school in Manhattan at night and realizing that my son would be here very soon. 

All of the pressure and roles caught up to me and I ended up failing one of my classes. Because this wasn't the first time I had to fill out an academic appeal asking them to forgive me and allow me back into school. 

I imagine it was the crushing news that my father delivered and told me that the school had denied my appeal because afterwards I had horrible pains in my stomach. Although it was my first pregnancy I knew something was wrong so I went straight to the hospital. They were about to discharge me but by the grace of God they decided to give me a sonogram. They came back and told me they were going to induce me right away. They informed me that I was low on amniotic fluid and that if they waited any longer my son would be in danger of several health complications. 

I had my son however, he had problems breathing and had to stay in an incubator for five days until he was able to come home. I finally bought him home, fell in love with him but was afraid if the state would come do a "house check" and find me in an illegal basement apartment which at this point was mildewy. At this time I was living life on fast forward. I wasn't living. I was constantly on the go and wasn't the best I should've been for my son and myself. 

Finally one day I put it in my mind and I called Covenant House. Unfortunately, they didn't have any space. I was crushed but I left them my contact information. Not too long afterwards they called me and I literally, baby in arm, ran for my bed at Covenant House. 

Presently I'm no longer at Applebees. I had to quit because of Tony's father. However, I am a home health aid which is a lot better. My son, Tony, is 18 months old and we've been here since he was 2 months old. 

Since I have 39 credits in CUNY I'm going back to school in Fall 2012. Although my GPA is very low right now I'm not worried! I know I can do it. I made it through my pregnancy being homeless, working and emotionally drained. Now that I have Covenant House and I'm in a new place in life I know I can get my GPA back up in no time. 

Precious is a wonderful teen mom and is very determined. She starts Hunter College in Fall 2012 and I'm confident she'll have her GPA and diploma in no time. Like she said, if she can make it through a pregnancy, six classes, uncertain living conditions and emotional roller coasters she'll be just fine now.
I am so glad that I was able to meet her and share a little bit of both of our stories with one another. Although all teen pregnancies are different it's nice and refreshing to hear another teen mom's story. 

I do not own this image

Remember that there is ALWAYS a reason to volunteer and Covenant House has several volunteer opportunities.