TUC’s Cal-SAFE celebrated the holidays with a generous supporter who lifted the spirits of the children and their teenage mothers.
“I just love this program and the support it provides for teen moms,” said Patricia Smith, who visited the center on December 19th with a van loaded with gifts for the young children to enjoy.
More than 50 stocking and plush reindeer toys were handed out to the bright-eyed children who welcomed them with much joy. A few of the children, still lying on their cots, sat up to receive their toy only to lay back and close their eyes to nap while hugging their stuffed animal. It was a wonderful sight to see, according to Smith. This was the former teen mother – now a grandmother’s – way to spread love and connect with a community she knows all too well.
“I was a teen mom, and we didn’t have the same amount of support that these moms have here,” said Smith. As she passed out each toy to a child, the donor also shared with each mother words of encouragement. “There is hope. You can do it.”
Smith has walked in the same footsteps as the Cal-SAFE mothers – balancing motherhood, completing high school and at times, feeling hopelessness. When she became a mother in the 1970s, her resources at school were limited, but with the help of her partner and family members, she was able to complete high school and pull through the toughest times.
“There were no family advocates; then, young infants were not accepted at schools, and the teens were segregated by race. African-American and Hispanics were at one school whereas the white students were placed at another school.”
As she walked into each classroom, she was grateful to know that the mothers had access to an array of resources and their children were receiving quality care by the dedicated staff. “It’s one less concern for them,” said Smith.
Smith says she left the center with a heart filled with love enough to last a lifetime. She was also able to share the moment alongside her daughter, TUC’s Family and Community Partnerships & Home-Based Coordinator, Jacqueline Smith.
“I believe in every one of these moms,” said Smith. “I didn’t think I could do it. But I was determined to pull through for my children.”
On behalf of the parents and kids we serve at our Cal-SAFE program, thank you, Patricia Smith, for your generous support.