Taking the First Step

Facing Hope in Rome, Georgia

I first connected with the Rome-Floyd County Commission on Children and Youth when I became pregnant with my oldest son. I was in the ninth grade, and my school counselor invited me to participate in the Commission’s Healthy Families Program. This program reached out to at-risk moms and offered services for up to the first three years of the child’s life. We were assigned a Family Support Worker who visited our home and provided support, education, and more on parenting skills, child development, and community resources.

Our Family Support Worker was a part of our family. We could talk with her about anything, including topics that we were not comfortable discussing with our parents. This experience changed the way I’ve raised my sons. I want them to be able to talk to me about anything and to think of me as their friend as well as their parent. I did not have that kind of relationship with my parents growing up.

The Healthy Families program also improved the relationship my son has with his father. Even though things eventually ended between the father and me, he has always been involved in our son’s life. He often says that he is glad we had the Commission’s support, because through their programs he learned to be there for our son no matter what.

I’ve always believed school should never be something that you put off. Many of my friends in similar situations quit school and have not gone back. They are now wishing they had stayed in high school or later gotten some kind of degree. However, they have not made an effort to pursue that dream because they think it is too late for them. They’ve given up hope.

I refused to give up, and with the Commission’s help, I graduated high school with honors in 2007. It took me a while to get to college, but once I started, I really got into it. I knew I wanted to pursue something in the medical field, so in January of 2010, I began the Respiratory Care Program at Georgia Northwestern Technical College.

I was hired by the Commission as a First Steps Assistant in 2011, having been selected for this position over a significant number of other applicants. The First Steps Program provides resources, guidance, and support to new mothers. I worked with this program for two years and really enjoyed the experience. I could easily relate to the mothers I worked with, having been through the same thing myself.

In 2012, I graduated from Georgia Northwestern Technical College with honors and a 4.0 GPA, after giving birth to my second son. My involvement in the community through the Commission helped me get a job at Floyd Medical Center as a Registered Respiratory Therapist almost immediately, where I am currently still doing what I love. I am now expecting my third son and thinking of going back to school for a bachelor’s degree in business. I’ve kept in close contact with the people I connected with through the Commission over the years, and my family is regularly involved in the activities and fundraisers they sponsor.

Based upon my experience, I would tell teenage mothers that these difficult circumstances do not make it impossible to fulfill your dreams. Having a child at such a young age does not mean you have to give everything up or that you can’t be somebody in life. As long as you have the right people around to support you, be it your parents, teachers, a social worker, or a counselor, you will be able to do what you want to do. I am so grateful I’ve had such great people around me always encouraging me to go to school and pursue my dreams.

Without the help of the Rome-Floyd County Commission on Children and Youth, I would not have had anybody to lean on and go to for advice, and my life would have turned out very differently. It is because of their support that I have been able to accomplish all that I intended to despite challenges along the way.

-As told to Rebeka Garcia, Student Writer

This story originally appeared in Facing Hope, a publication of The Facing Project that was organized by Georgia Highlands College, Georgia Northwestern Technical College, and Berry College in Rome, Georgia.

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