Congratulations to our JP families and team! 2019 was a year filled with success
Jeremiah Program mothers and their children just completed another terrific year. At Jeremiah Program, we work to fulfill the promise of a world where single mothers and their children prosper. The vast majority of our single mother participants are between the ages of 18-25, and 78% are from communities of color. With the help of our volunteers, community partners, and supporters, we’re making great progress.
Nailah talks about her experience with the Jeremiah Project childcare center.
Nailah talks about the benefits of the Jeremiah Project empowerment program.
What are some of the biggest challenges you faced as a single mother?
With my daughter, I experienced premature labor, and that was totally unexpected. And with her diagnosis or her being hospitalized soon after delivery, birth, I had to stop working, stop everything I had to do—like going to school, going to work—and fully concentrate on her, because she needed aftercare and a lot of services when she was discharged from the hospital.
That type of experience was very different for me because I had to rely on my partner financially. And that also put a strain in our relationship. I experienced domestic violence as well.
From then on, I just was in a dark place because I didn’t have anybody to depend on, to actually give me good advice … like a good support system. I was embarrassed to tell my family what I was going through with my children’s father. So, I finally left the situation. I left with nothing, just my kids and our documents. I just had to start from scratch.
How did you become involved in Jeremiah Program?
I was referred through my therapist because I was going through past traumatic experiences. I was so sick and tired of just staying in the house and dealing with my issues. I just wanted to focus on myself. And I asked my therapist about a program I could join—because we did talk about goals—and one of my goals was to go to school.
Luckily, she had come across the flier about Jeremiah Program. And what caught my eye was that they [focus on] ending poverty [two] generation[s] at a time. [T]hat’s what really interests me in the program.
In your experience, what are the keys to breaking the cycle of poverty?
Education, understanding how money works, and using that knowledge with your own experience. Changing your mindset and being willing to utilize resources to assist in upward mobility.
Which aspect of the Jeremiah Program has made the biggest difference for you?
[T]he program was curated for us having an empowerment course from the beginning. It made me realize who I am as an individual. I’m capable of doing anything, you know? And [it] made me believe that I’m strong, going through challenges. And it really made me aware of my confidence, my strength, and how far I’ve come. So that empowerment really, really helped me a lot mentally. Mindfulness. Personal development.
How has having access to childcare influenced your ability to pursue your goals?
The volunteers that watch the kids are very trustworthy, so I have nothing to worry about. I can just focus what I have to do, and it gives me a good space to actually put myself first, put myself forward, knowing that my children are in good hands.
They’re very social, very happy to be around [and] seeing kids their age. And, not only that, for me, it just gives me more courage and makes me feel happy that my kids are along with me through this journey, and they’re experiencing the positive aspects of it. We build a new family in this program.
What do you feel passionate about?
Uplifting people because I’ve encountered disappointments, failures, and doubts. With the help of Jeremiah Program, I have constructed this fight for change and compassion for other people.
What are some of the big goals you are working on right now?
With the support of my family coach, my goal [is] finishing my last semester, graduating with my associate’s, and continuing on with my bachelor’s degree. I plan on operating my own nonprofit organization for women that have had the same experience as me. And also finding a home, and really making a difference in society. That’s my goal. … I feel like I should be involved in making decisions in society.
What you want people to know about the Jeremiah Program?
I want people to know that the Jeremiah Program is a sanctuary to assist individuals, such as myself, to uplift and encourage us that we are more than our circumstances. They are always available to assist us with our needs and to help us keep the focus on our goals
Alyssa talks about living in an apartment with other Jeremiah Program mothers.
Alyssa talks about her experience with the Jeremiah Project childcare center.
What aspects of Jeremiah Program have made the biggest difference for you?
Definitely the childcare and the safe living. It’s been a long time—maybe all of my life—that I can really reflect on and see that I was not living in a very safe environment or was always an environment where I was staying with somebody. And, with young children and in a home where somebody doesn’t have children or isn’t sympathetic to young individuals, it can be very much like walking on eggshells all the time.
Here, everybody in the building is empathetic and kind towards children. We have a locked facility that you need a key fob in order to get into. There’s a review system for any men that enter the building. So, it’s a very safe environment. …
And then the childcare piece is really, really fundamental to our success. … I can’t go to school, I can’t go to my job if I don’t know that my children are in a safe, caring place for the length of time that I need to be away from them. And here at Jeremiah Program, they’ve provided that at a very low cost, or no cost at times, in order to help mothers get onto their feet so that they can go out and take care of the things that they need to, to bring their family up, to rise above. And that’s made just a huge, huge difference on our life.
In your experience, what are the biggest challenges single mothers face?
Single mothers definitely face a lack of support, whether that be financially or just parenting support. Sometimes you get so overwhelmed with just trying to survive and provide for your children and your future that you can’t take that time to pause and really research all of the resources that are out there and available for single mothers to take advantage of, [like] food support or childcare vouchers, those kinds of things.
While each of those pieces exist out there, … bring [ing] them all together in a timely fashion on top of all the things that [mothers] have to do on a daily basis to take care of their children—it is a challenge. To provide for keeping a home and also paying for childcare sometimes—oftentimes, especially with two young ones in preschool—can cost more than any living costs that you have, including food and rent.
And, then, having the childcare piece so that you can go to work to obtain the finances. Most pre-Ks are half days. They start late, or maybe they’ll start early, but they get out early as well, so that limits your time that you have to be at a job. Sometimes if you don’t have that support on the weekends, you can’t work even a retail job that requires weekends. If you don’t have the support for childcare, for the hours that you need to be employed so that you can provide for your child, that’s definitely a struggle.
What are some of the big goals you’re working toward currently?
I am obtaining my bachelor’s degree in scientific education. My focus is on biological science and chemistry. I’m also obtaining my teacher’s certification for secondary education, so that’s high school. I’m really excited to be able to say that I’m so close now to finishing my degree, and I’m getting close to the demonstration teacher demonstration portion of it where I’m actually in the field. I also have recently—finally—obtained a job that is within the school system. So, it’s perfect for my schedule with my daughter who’s in this public education area.
It’s been really great to see that I’m making progress towards my goal in participating more in the community in a very tangible way to help support the two-generation model that Jeremiah program has. I still want to continue that in my life goals. That’s super important to me: I want to take the knowledge I have and share it with our younger generations and uplift anybody who feels like, “Oh, there’s no way I can become a NASA scientist,” and be like, “Oh, no, you can! Here are some tools that I can give you now, even if it’s just a motivational speech in the classroom.” I’m really excited to be a part of that.
How would you describe the benefits of the two-generation model?
The two-generation model, here at Jeremiah, it’s providing resources that assist not only the mother of the children, but also directly the children. A part of the requirements to fulfill that two-generation model is that, while mother is in school, the children are part of a childcare or a school that provides excellent education and care. They use a lot of empathy and they use the same vocabulary that they teach [mothers] in our empowerment [course]. They use it in the classrooms, and they speak about being kind to each other, and being there as a community. They very much emphasize the community; although the classrooms are separated, they do things together and they have a lot of conversations about how to be a good person and how to be civic-minded, in the sense of really taking care of those around you and the community and being a part of that.
Our children, they all know each other. They go to class together. We have community events [where] they all see each other. They see each other in their hallways. My daughter, she thinks that all apartments are like our apartment building. Everybody is a community within their apartments. I think it’s beautiful, and I wish that it was that that was the case. She calls our building our “Jeremiah City.” It’s their own little world. They all love supporting each other, lifting each other up; just as the mothers are doing that for each other, so are the children. I think it’s overall a great model for teaching individuals how to be more understanding of each other and supportive of each other. And I think that, no matter where any of us goes, both the mothers and the children will all maintain that idea of what an ideal, supportive, positive, empowering community looks like and how to function within that.
What changes have you noticed since you joined the program?
When I came into it, there were a lot of things in my past that I felt overwhelmed by and I felt like I couldn’t rise above the ways it was manifesting in my life. [Now], I feel more in control of my immediate surroundings and my potential and achieving that potential. Just on a daily basis, I don’t need somebody else to provide something for me, to help me troubleshoot something. I can do it myself and I feel more confident in my decisions. …
And for my children, I think that it has impacted them, the tumultuousness in their early life. And I can see at times where it bubbles up and where I need to still take advantage of different resources out there to help them process that. But, on a day-to-day basis, they’re very happy. They’re happy, and they’re not afraid. They feel free to speak up and be themselves, and they know at the end of the day they’re in a safe bed and there’s no a worry of, “When we’re going to eat?” or fear of the people around us. That’s extremely important at such a young age.
What would say to other women who are considering joining Jeremiah Program?
If you’re a single mom and you have young children, especially who aren’t in school yet, it’s, it’s an ideal situation. It’s not easy though. No matter where you are in life, there’s always going to be challenges and it’s always going to require you to step into your best self to tackle those problems or those challenges.
Even within the Jeremiah Program, they take care to not do everything for you. They’re trying to empower you to feel confident that you can do these things for yourself in a way, so that when you leave Jeremiah program, you still feel confident leaving this safety net that they’ve provided to help you get to that spot. …
And then also the importance of education and helping you obtain a job that’s not just the minimum wage, just spinning wheels just to make ends meet. This is really a great avenue to move past that and to escape that cycle of poverty and also to model to your children what it looks like to do that. Regardless of whatever they may encounter in their future life, they’ll see, “Hey, I remember when mom was here and we were here, and she was doing everything that she could, and she was also putting her education at the forefront in the sense of helping her achieve a higher income, a higher purpose, fulfill their own dreams.” I think that really puts a great model before the children. If that’s something that a single mother values, this would be just a great program to help you achieve that.
When: Wednesday April 29, 2020 11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Where: Fairmont Hotel, 101 Red River St, Austin, TX 78701
Join us for the third annual Love to L.I.V. Luncheon that celebrates the core values of the Jeremiah Program’s empowerment program which teaches single mothers that we are all Lovable, Important and Valuable. This year we will honor Sharon and Bruce Walker with our Compassionate Heart Award, and Ryan Companies with our inaugural Noble Champion Award.
Jeremiah Program is gearing up for Amplify Austin, a 24-hour online day of giving starting at 6pm on March 5 and ending at 6pm on March 6. This is a great way to support organizations you love in Austin—like JP!
Why give during Amplify Austin? As a St. David’s Foundation grantee, donations made to JP during Amplify will help us receive additional matching funds. Your gift may also help us win one of the prizes during the 24-hour period.
How can you help the Jeremiah Program?
Make your gift now or visit our Amplify Austin page on March 5-6 to make a gift.
Sign up to fundraise for us! Visit our Amplify Austin page and select the “Fundraise” button to set up your own donation page.
Share our Amplify Austin page on Social Media with your friends and use #AmplifyATX and #JeremiahProgram.
Stay tuned for more #AmplifyATX and #JeremiahProgram news and updates. Thank you for supporting JP families and making our work possible!
Giving Hearts Day is a 24-hour giving event for more than 470 charities across North Dakota and northwest Minnesota. This is our second-largest fundraising event of the year, and we’re counting on your support to make it a success! When you choose to donate to Jeremiah Program Fargo Moorhead, you are supporting our mission to end the cycle of poverty for single mothers and their children two-generations at a time. Schedule your gift now at https://app.givingheartsday.org/#/charity/67 and remind others to donate by using the hashtag #CountMe.