Laodice spent her entire young life in poverty. She describes it as unstable at best and her housing changed as often as the seasons. Her father was deported while she was very young. Raised by her mother, who tried to be more of a friend to her than a mother, the single digit years of Laodice’s life were dysfunctional
At 12, Laodice met a boy named Damian. Her mother never tried to stop this relationship that she was far too young to have. Her mom was busy living the childhood she never had. Many homes later, life was not improving. By 15, Laodice was pregnant and at 16 she had a baby boy, Michael. She and Michael, at 16 and three months old, were kicked out of her mother’s house after a heated disagreement.
Laodice tried living with her son’s father and his family off and on but things only got worse for her and Michael. Damian became abusive to Laodice. One evening, during an argument, he struck her in front of their baby. As she turned away from Damian to protect herself, she came face-to-face with her now one-year-old son. She could see how upset he was, his sadness, and the confusion that overwhelmed him as he tried to process what was happening. That was enough for her. She had so many fears. She did not want him to see her treated that way, or for him to live in such an unhealthy and unsafe environment. It was only a matter of time that Damian’s anger would be taken out on her little boy.
Homeless again, Laodice remarked, “It felt suffocating to realize I am the only one Michael has to take care of him.” She was faced with some hard decisions. Her shelter options were few. Still a child herself, she was now navigating staying in an adult women’s shelter with her son. Knowing she didn’t fit in, she looked for other options and was finally referred to The Salvation Army’s Transitional Apartment Parenting Center (TAPC). She had no idea a place like this existed. The Salvation Army gave her the ability to live and focus on what’s important. Here she was able to find the stability she needed to make a better life for herself and Michael. A home, where she could rest and they both were safe, warm and cared for. This was what they needed.
The Salvation Army gave her the stability she never had in life. “It’s the longest I’ve ever been in one place,” she remarked.
This new-found stability allowed her to focus on school, which became a priority for her. She has been able to begin building the foundation for a future for her and Michael. Now she is strong and refuses to become a stereotype and knows she doesn’t have to be. Laodice is now 18 years old, has gotten her GED and is taking college courses. It is Laodice’s desire to become a neonatal nurse first and eventually an obstetrician. Her face and eyes just beam when she talks about their future.
The Salvation Army not only provides the necessities including meals, and shelter but also offers 24-hour support to these brand new mothers, education on nutrition, how to parent and other life skills. Day care is available as well which allowed for Laodice to keep moving forward on her foundation.
“It has been so crazy – the amount of support I had at The Salvation Army, said Laodice. “The love and care I received from people I didn’t even know were overwhelming. I never had anything like that before. They even showed up at my graduation! The Salvation Army gave me a new life,” said Laodice.
The TAPC provides support services for pregnant and homeless teens as well as childcare services. The Center is a 24 unit apartment complex providing long-term transitional housing, case management and parenting classes for homeless, pregnant and parenting adolescent girls and their children. Annually more than 50 young women and their children receive care. The center helps prevent additional challenges and costs associated with homelessness, infant mortality, low birth weight and child abuse. The center offers a supportive and caring homelike environment where young mothers and their children have access to 24-hour supervision, building security, crisis intervention, and transportation.
Please note: Some names and photos used in this story have been changed to protect the confidentiality of those we serve.