Spotlight: Teen MOPS

When she got her driver's license this year, Whitney cried. She was 21, with a year old child, Elijah, and an unfinished education. She had no car to learn on and no one to teach her to drive. Our Teen MOPS program paid for her driving lessons so now she can get to class to finish her training in massage therapy.

This door to her future opened because one year ago our congregation poured out its love with $12,000 in donations for Teen MOPS to remove just such stumbling blocks. The campaign, "Christmas is Not Your Birthday," celebrated the birth of Christ by making a difference and transforming lives of the young mothers in this program.

Whitney was 3 when she was placed in foster care. She moved out on her own when she was 17 and a senior in high school. Living with a friend, she managed to graduate from high school and headed to West Lafayette to study health sciences at Purdue and later massage therapy at Ivy Tech. She was on her own, all alone, and didn't even know how to open a bank account.

 Three years later, with two years of classes completed, she was pregnant and unequipped to support herself, let alone a child. She has the love of Elijah's father, his family and Faith church in Lafayette. She works as a photographer when she gets the chance. But as a stay-at-home mom without much other training, she was isolated.

She learned about Teen MOPS through a flyer in her pediatrician's office and joined in hopes of finding friends.

Arissa is one of those friends. She had attended 11 different schools while growing up. Her mother abandoned the family when Arissa was 14, leaving her to the care of her stepdad and grandmother. Now Arissa has found a new family in Teen MOPS.

This fall she couldn't wait to tell her Teen MOPS friends that she'd gotten a note from her son's kindergarten teacher at Miami Elementary School. The note told her that Xiovxani, 6, was responsible, honest, very friendly, sweet and hard working. As it would be for any mom, that was music to her ears. But for Arissa, 22, who with three children is struggling to support herself, it meant hope. So does the new degree she's just earned certifying her as a nursing assistant, thanks to her own hard work and a scholarship from Teen MOPS. She'd already been doing similar work but completing that class will mean as much as $4,000 more in pay a year.

"My goal is to make sure my children won't need to go what I went through" Arisa says.

That's what Teen MOPS is all about, says Neil McTavish, who along with several others form First Methodist's support group for these young women. About 15 moms and 30 young children are active in this nurturing community. They come for weekly meals and fellowship on Wednesdays followed by programs on life lessons ranging from childcare to the proper installation of a child's car seat. Their participation earns them points to "shop" at First's closet for disposable diapers and used children's clothes.

 "A little support goes a long way," McTavish says. " We also used the Christmas donations to pay electric bills for two of our girls who would have lost their housing otherwise. We know these young women well and know how small amounts of money wisely invested in them can make fundamental differences."