Without funding influx, program helping Philly teen moms will end

A group that helps young Philadelphia mothers is making a last-minute plea for funding.

For two years the Philadelphia nonprofit Youth Service, Inc. has run the Teen Success program with funding from a California branch of Planned Parenthood.

That money has run out, said Gwendolyn Bailey, executive director of the nonprofit. And unless the organization raises $15,000 by September, the Teen Success program may have to end early next year.

“We’re determined to raise the money. We’ve raised about $9,000 at this particular point,” Bailey said. “We have a board committee of young friends who are actively seeking donations from their friends and doing kind of a friend-to-friend fundraiser.”

For young women in the challenging position of raising a young child, Bailey said, the program helps them address adult issues.

Those challenges include how to “maintain their family size, delay a second pregnancy and achieve educational outcomes. Part of that goal is to help young women set goals for themselves and set a plan in motion that will sustain them through some of the challenges that they often face as teen parents,” she said.

Resheeyma Smith, one of 30 young women who’ve been helped by the program, said being a teen mom is hard. “With Teen Success, I got a lot of my anger and frustration out — and a lot of heartache that I got out as well.”

“Teen moms really don’t get that much respect, so it was kind of hard for me to talk to anybody about my issues or the problems I’m facing,” said Smith, who became pregnant at 15.

She said the Teen Success program has helped her and other teens.

“With our children, they teach us more stuff about parenting and it’s a safe space in which we can talk about sex, relationships, our sexual preferences, our bodies,” said Smith.

She said she wishes there were more programs like Teen Success in Philadelphia for young moms who are scared and struggling and don’t have anyone to talk to.

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