Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014

FACES project:
Woman-to-Woman

The Woman-to-Woman program is an educational and prevention program for teenage mothers and pregnant girls from Hillsborough County who are at high risk for academic failure and repeat pregnancies. The program provides one-on-one mentoring and support from community volunteers.

Elisa

The journey from motherhood to womanhood.

Bringing a child into the world can be one of the most miraculous experiences a woman can have. No matter how sublime the birth of a baby is, there are countless difficulties that come with the package. Lives are forced to change, selfishness becomes a thing of the past. Having a baby is joyful—but hard. Especially if you are only seventeen years old.

Elisa became pregnant during her junior year of high school. With each passing day, she became more concerned about the birth of her daughter and was having trouble keeping up in school. Eventually, Elisa made the decision to drop out of school and work. Once she gave birth to a little girl, she found herself wanting to go back and complete high school.

Elisa says that her baby made her a better person. It made her responsible and kept her out of trouble. She was very rebellious before the little one arrived. The responsibility of caring for a baby fueled Elisa’s ambitions and dreams. Being so young, Elisa faced disapproval and judgment at every turn. A baby? At such a young age? Elisa even began to doubt if she’d ever be able to make a life for herself and her baby. The Woman-to-Woman volunteer mentor made sure that her doubt was washed away.

Elisa bonded with her mentor as their lives were nearly parallel. They were both teenage mothers by age seventeen, they both came from strict Hispanic families, and they both faced the same judgmental looks and comments that are so easily thrown at young mothers.

The Woman-to-Woman program helped Elisa improve her communication and relationship with her baby’s father. It taught her how to be strong, how to accept advice and how to be comfortable with the uncomfortable. Guest speakers who had been teen mothers themselves bolstered Elisa’s spirit by proving that any girl can become a successful woman, despite having a child at a young age.

“The program helped me grow,” said Elisa. “It helped me look at life in a way completely different than I ever could have imagined. I saw things inside me I never knew I had—strength and courage. It helped me open my eyes.” The program had left such an effect on Elisa that she wants to become a mentor herself, so that she can give back to the people who gave her so much.

Sometimes, the greatest gifts are given to us at unexpected times. When Elisa was being judged, chastised, and felt as if no one was rooting for her, the volunteer mentor was there to remind her that she is unlimited in her power. Elisa is a strong woman through and through, but the title which she is most proud of is simply mother.

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