YWCA helps over 2 million of women and families each year in a variety of community programs including youth services. Below, Blessings Hill, who participated in the Teen Services Program at YWCA Rochester & Monroe County, shares her story.
I have been involved in YWCA’s Teen Services Program since I was 15 years old, when I became pregnant with my first child. More than 7 years later, YWCA is still an important part of my life.
I was only a freshman at James Madison Middle School in Rochester, New York, when I got pregnant. I was scared — for a lot of reasons — but also because I knew how disappointed my mom would be. She was also a young mother and I knew she wanted me to have a full life. I was relieved to find that despite the challenges of my early pregnancy, my mom was by my side through it all.
In addition to the love and support from my mom, I also I had help from YWCA Rochester & Monroe County — especially my caseworker, Shawn. Pregnancy definitely was not easy, and my morning sickness was really bad — I was even getting sick in the hallways at school. There were many days that I wanted to just drop out of school, but Shawn encouraged me to stay. I am proud to say that I did stay in school and made it to graduation.
Balancing school and pregnancy was hard, and I had a lot to learn about taking care of my body and becoming a parent. My YWCA offered helpful workshops about parenting and healthy pregnancies that gave me not only important information but also the self-confidence I needed to put it to use.
After I had my baby and finished school, the team at YWCA Rochester & Monroe County helped me again as I looked for a job. Their job readiness program prepared me for my first job as a home health aide.
My world was turned upside down in 2012. My baby boy was two years old when he got into some prescription medication at his grandparents’ house. It was an accidental overdose; he fell asleep and never woke up. I didn’t know how I would ever recover from such a horrible tragedy. I was lost. I did my best to cope and keep all of my progress on track.
Fortunately, I did have a new ray of light and sunshine come into my life last year. I had another beautiful baby, Jhon. Even though I had learned a lot, I still needed some help. I returned to the teen services program at YWCA Rochester & Monroe County. Again, this excellent program helped me reach my goals.
I still meet with my caseworker twice a month. She helps me make sure my baby reaches developmental milestones. We talk about nutrition, health care, behavioral milestones, problem solving, and nurturing my baby’s development.
I am thrilled to write that I’m at Monroe Community College now and because of the help I’ve received from YWCA, I’m on my way to becoming a social worker myself.
I’m going to accomplish my goals. I’m going to be successful, and I’m going to continue to be a great mom. I am strong and I am brave, but I couldn’t have done all of this without the amazing, dedicated caseworkers at YWCA Rochester & Monroe County.