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HomeHealth InsuranceFrom Homeless and Pregnant to Serving to Others: A Girl’s Inspiring Journey

From Homeless and Pregnant to Serving to Others: A Girl’s Inspiring Journey

By Emilie Poplett | April 17, 2023 | 5 min min learn | Changemakers, Neighborhood Well being, Neighborhood Companions

For a girl, double strains on a being pregnant check can spark a flood of feelings, starting from fast and immense pleasure to shock and concern. Turning into pregnant is life altering. It impacts your priorities, your well being, your funds and your life-style. However, for pregnant ladies of their teenagers, the impression will be life-threatening, too.

Cassie Ward can relate, as she had a high-risk being pregnant at a younger age. She was additionally homeless and alone. Nonetheless, her energy, willpower and hope pulled her by means of. As did a serving to hand.

Not everybody will get that assist, although, as providers for pregnant teenagers are few and much between. They’re in determined want of shelter, well being care and assist. Ward, an worker at Blue Cross and Blue Protect of North Carolina (Blue Cross NC) and a church pastor – is aware of this firsthand.

Ladies who develop up in poverty or that suffer childhood abuse, neglect or household instability usually tend to turn into pregnant as teenagers. In sure settings corresponding to foster care, teenagers are greater than twice as doubtless to turn into pregnant than these not within the foster care system.

After which, there are those that haven’t any place to name house.

A 2018 examine by Chapin Corridor on the College of Chicago concluded that “many pregnant and parenting youth are experiencing or in danger for homelessness.” Fifty-five % of ladies aged 13-17 experiencing homelessness, reported being a guardian or being pregnant.

Moreover, teen being pregnant brings greater dangers of life-threatening situations corresponding to eclampsia, systemic infections, low beginning weight, preterm beginning and a slew of neonatal points.

These environmental and medical components are an enormous a part of Ward’s personal expertise.

Cassie Ward is paying it ahead, serving to younger girls carve out a wholesome and promising future for themselves and their kids.

Rising up in Wilson, NC, Ward’s father deserted her household whereas she was younger. She and her two brothers had been raised by a single mom, who endured home abuse in relationships. As a younger youngster, Ward was sexually molested, inflicting trauma, disgrace and despair that lasted for many years. She coped by holding tight to her Christian religion and striving for perfection by excelling in teachers and sports activities. “That’s how I escaped from what occurred to me – ensuring I used to be one of the best at no matter I put my thoughts to,” she mentioned.

With all indicators pointing towards a brighter maturity, Ward nonetheless discovered herself susceptible to the cycles created by childhood trauma; falling into abusive relationships, simply as her mom had. She turned pregnant in 1996 on the age of 21, welcoming a son. Regardless of her happiness at turning into a mom, it added immense pressure to the already dysfunctional relationship she had together with her soon-to-be husband. By 2000, she was homeless, dwelling in her automotive together with her younger son, pregnant with a child woman. The stress of juggling motherhood, work, and a unstable marriage in the end landed her within the hospital in the course of the fifth month of her being pregnant. When it got here time for her discharge, she had no house deal with to offer. So, she phoned her good friend, Lelia Brewington, who welcomed her into her own residence.

Ward and her kids stayed with Brewington’s household for six months. Throughout that point, she was working for Blue Cross NC as a Buyer Service Advocate, saving sufficient cash to safe her personal house, however nonetheless struggling psychological and verbal abuse by the hands of her husband. “I used to be satisfied that it doesn’t matter what occurred on this marriage, I might repair it. I didn’t need my kids to develop up in a one-parent house like I did,” Ward says. “I used to be in my thirties earlier than it lastly hit me: ‘This isn’t your fault.’”

She credit her kids for serving to get by means of her darkest moments.

“All these instances I felt like I wasn’t beloved… my son would bounce in my lap and simply hug me, kiss me throughout [and say], ‘I like you, Mama. I like you.’ That is the explanation why I wish to hold happening and do nice issues. As a result of I would like him to in the future take a look at me and say, ‘Mama, you probably did that’.”

In 2013, divorced and wanting a contemporary begin, she moved again to her hometown, nonetheless constructing her profession at Blue Cross NC. She additionally continued her church ministry, the place she met many younger girls scuffling with the identical type of ache she had felt. She enrolled in free enterprise programs at the area people faculty, taking each class she might, readying herself to execute a call that she had made way back – to pay ahead the generosity that Brewington had proven her years earlier than.

“When Lelia welcomed me into her house, I felt prefer it was heaven itself coming down, rescuing me. That’s why I got here up with Heavenly Rescued,” Ward says. Based in 2018, the nonprofit supplies help to pregnant females from the ages of 13 to 23, experiencing homelessness, displacement and abuse. By steady dwelling environments, instructional development assist, parenting expertise and job coaching, Heavenly Rescued teaches teenagers and girls simply coming into maturity to turn into self-sufficient and purposeful moms.

Ward started by housing mothers-to-be in her house. Two years later, she rented a bigger four-bedroom home – often known as the Maternity Residence – a spot crammed with stuffed animals, blankets, clothes and different small comforts for soon-to-be moms. Right here, residents can expertise stability and care all through their being pregnant and as much as six months postpartum.

Chavis and her daughter, Indya, spend time with Ward. “Pastor Cassie informed me that she would do as a lot as she will to assist me…that a very powerful factor was having a wholesome child,” Chavis says.

So far, Heavenly Rescued has had greater than 30 teenagers and younger girls move by means of its doorways, bringing with them their very own horrible baggage: poverty, abuse, rape and the psychological injury that comes with every.

“The youthful the teenager, the extra consideration is required,” Ward says. “Most of them have both dropped out of faculty or should not doing effectively at school; subsequently, tutoring is a should. They’re additionally extra mentally and emotionally scarred than the older moms. They require extra household and one-on-one counseling, in addition to parenting and developmental expertise.”

By a community of sources that Ward has created, these mothers-to-be obtain remedy, profession coaching, parenting programs and monetary training. Ward additionally helps younger moms in acquiring their GED by means of the area people faculty’s program providing. And, alongside the best way, Ward and her crew step in to show these younger girls self-love and self-care that they’ll then move on to their youngster.

Pleasure Chavis is certainly one of many ladies who’ve discovered a brand new path by means of Heavenly Rescued.

Recent out of highschool, Chavis discovered she was pregnant. Her child’s father instantly left her, and he or she was kicked out of her household house. “I had no job, no cash and solely a highschool training,” she says. Chavis’s grandmother, Betti Brown, was a member of Ward’s ministry and launched the 2.

With assist from Ward and Heavenly Rescued, Chavis welcomed a daughter, mended her relationship together with her mom, discovered a safe job and saved sufficient cash for her personal house. “I might by no means repay Pastor Cassie,” she says, “I really feel like there’s hope for me.”

By donations from organizations, congregations and people, 5 younger moms have obtained their GED, and 5 others have obtained jobs based mostly on the group’s coaching program. Twelve are actually dwelling independently. As Ward notes, it’s merely “one particular person at a time.”

Lots of Ward’s co-workers have contributed to Heavenly Rescued by means of Blue Cross NC’s GivingWorks program, which matches particular person donations to maximise an worker’s impression on their neighborhood.

“GivingWorks is without doubt one of the most tangible methods our staff join with our function,” says Sophie McMillian, a member of the Neighborhood & Range Enagement crew at Blue Cross NC. “Of us will share tales about how a nonprofit modified their life, or the place they offer in honor of a member of the family, or, in circumstances like Cassie, the place they spend all their free time serving to their neighborhood. Over the previous 10 years, GivingWorks has raised $17.2 million {dollars} for quite a lot of organizations, together with Heavenly Rescued. That’s unbelievable to see.”

Ward, who has labored at Blue Cross NC for greater than 20 years, is now a compliance officer within the Company Pharmacy division. She praises the corporate for permitting her to commit extra time to Heavenly Rescued and obtain a doctoral diploma in theology from Manna School. “If I didn’t have that flexibility, I actually don’t suppose I might even do that.”

Ward’s dedication to the younger girls she helps is eternal. Her deep understanding of their trials, fears, disgrace and brokenness is what retains her welcoming them in with open arms, an open coronary heart and an open door – in order that when their infants arrive, they’re swaddled in hope.



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