Changing Lives >> St. Vincent’s Family Strengthening Program
St. Vincent’s Family Strengthening Program
“I had a boyfriend, and he said he loved me. I got pregnant. Once the baby was born, the violence started.”
I was 20 when I came to St. Vincent’s Family Strengthening Program. I needed help.
I had been living with my mother who raised me alone all my life. She was an alcoholic and she was diagnosed with cancer of the liver. She died a year after the diagnosis.
I had no one to turn to. I became homeless. I moved around from “friend” to “friend” sleeping on couches. I had a boyfriend and he said he loved me. I got pregnant. Once the baby was born, the violence started. He began hitting me, kicking me, calling me names. He said he never wanted a baby. I knew I had to get away. St. Vincent’s had a lot of questions for me before I could come into the program. I had to really look inside myself for answers. What was I looking for? What kind of help did I need? They explained that housing is just one part of the program. I thought at first that housing was all I needed. What else? If I was safe and my child could be safe, we’d be fine, right?
I resisted the counseling and case management at first but at some point, I was able to see that it helped me to see patterns in my life that I had not seen before. I saw new ways to relate to my baby and even to adults. I started school, and a whole new world opened up for me. I got a certificate to be a cosmetologist. When I graduated from the program, I had saved enough money to move into an apartment with my child. I had a good job, and my son was happy. St. Vincent’s Early Childhood Education Center accepted my son while I was in the Family Strengthening Program. When he moved on to kindergarten, there was even a graduation ceremony for him! I couldn’t have asked for a better, more supportive community for me and my child. Make a gift. Change a life.