When India Meadows, now 25, began reassembling her life, interrupted as a teenager, it was two years ago as a single working mom residing with her then-four-year-old at New Moms’ Transformation Center.

The multi-use campus in Austin encompasses 40 individual apartments created for homeless young women, ages 18 to 24, and their children.  The young families can reside there until age 25.

For Meadows, living among peers in a structured environment is helping her regain stability.

Previously her life was like a jumble puzzle, easy to look at, but hard to figure out.

“When I got pregnant in high school, my mom said, well, you are pregnant.  I told you there will be no babies coming into my house.  And so she basically, suddenly just put me out,” says Meadows.

Meadows says she has no one to blame but herself for her circumstances, and “the company I was keeping kept putting me in a position to lose, and I lost.  And now I am moving forward.  That’s it.”

“After me being a homeless person, suddenly I came from a place where sometimes I did not even know if on that day I would even eat.  I came from a place where I had to worry about where I was going to go the next day.  So, to be honest, New Moms has given me an ability to be stable for at least two years, and that is a real blessing.”

Melanie Garrett, programming director and Meadows’ family support specialist, says this single working mom is not only resourceful, but resilient and has opted in on all of the services from its onsite case management, to parent education classes to family activities and outings, as well as its 12-week workforce development programming.  

“Actually, India’s story is not that dissimilar from the other moms who live here,” Garrett said.  “Many of them come from an unstable housing circumstance, either living in shelters or with family members.  We know that two years is short, but hopefully it is an opportunity to refocus on yourself and your young family, because while staying here, you do have stability, and that can make a difference in a young woman’s future life.”

Helping new moms in Oak Park and beyond

On Sept. 1, Laura Zumdahl, president and CEO at New Moms, says its acquisition of Parenthesis Parent Child Center in Oak Park was official.

“We were established in 1983.  Parenthesis has been providing parental support and education in the Oak Park area for the past 36 years, and now as a program of New Moms, what they do will remain the same, and continue to operate as is in Oak Park.”

Down the road, Zumdahl’s aim is to expand a few of their long time programs into the Oak Park area, particularly their workforce development and residential housing initiatives.

 Meanwhile, with her life now being more stable, Meadows future is back in focus.

“I can honestly say that my daughter has probably been around things she shouldn’t have.  But, I was trying to do what was right for her,” Meadows says.  “I have this little person looking up to me, so I just can’t give up.  I have to show her that she can do anything she wants to do.    I try and set that example for her, and keep going.”

New Moms

Complete address: 5317 W. Chicago Ave., Chicago, IL 60651 / Oak Park Programs (Parenthesis' Programs): 405 S. Euclid, Oak Park, IL 60302

General office number:773.252.3253

Website:www.newmoms.org

Leadership contact name & title: Laura Zumdahl, President & CEO

Statement of purpose: New Moms provides comprehensive services to surround young moms and their children with all they need to transform their lives. In Chicago we offer transitional housing for young moms and children experiencing homelessness, as well as early childhood services and job training. In Oak Park and the surrounding suburbs we offer home visiting and parent education and support for families.

How long have you been in existence? New Moms was founded in 1983 (33 years)

Ways volunteers can help: Volunteers assist with a variety of roles including child care, special events, fundraising, etc.

To volunteer, call: Emily Mikhail at 772.252.3253 x135

Useful donations other than money: New kid's toys and clothing; personal care items for young moms; diapers and formula

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Deb Quantock McCarey

Deb Quantock McCarey is an Illinois Press Association (IPA) award-winning freelance writer who has worked with Wednesday Journal Inc. since 1995, writing features and special sections for all its publications....