Nancy in the YWCA’s Drop-In Child Care
By Alison Gooding
On any given day between Monday and Saturday you can find Nancy Herrera-Mondoza at the YWCA. She works in the Drop-In Child Care Center, and is an active participant in the MotherLove alumni group.
Nancy is 19 years old and has lived in Asheville for at least 11 years. She was introduced to the YWCA through her doctor two years ago during a prenatal visit when she sought help for loneliness and isolation. The YWCA’s MotherLove program was recommended to Nancy as a nurturing and supportive place to meet young women like her who are pregnant and in high school.
MotherLove helps pregnant and parenting teens stay in school, access higher education and vocational training, develop the skills and knowledge needed to become strong parents and delay another teen pregnancy. The mentors and other moms in the group were welcoming and invited Nancy in with open arms. Nancy was able to breathe a sigh of relief and think to herself “I can finally feel better now.”
Since her parents speak little English, the MotherLove staff were instrumental in keeping Nancy’s high school teachers informed of her appointments and flexible with her homework assignments. MotherLove also kept Nancy focused and aware of what she needed to do to earn her diploma.
Having her son Fernando was transformational, changing her life, and her career focus to wanting to work with children.
Nancy in her high school graduation cap and gown
After graduating, Nancy wanted to further her education but lacked the financial resources. She started working long hours at a low-wage job under deplorable conditions. During that time she was missing out on her son’s developmental milestones. She again felt stuck, anxious, and lonely.
That’s when the phone rang. It was Holly Gillespie, the MotherLove Program Coordinator. Holly called to tell Nancy about a job opening at the YWCA’s Drop-In Child Care. Nancy applied, aced the interview, and quickly joined the Drop-In staff, working regular hours up to six days a week.
The YWCA is helping pay for Nancy’s education, and she has already earned credits toward a degree in early childhood education. Nancy is getting closer to her dream career of working full time in a child care setting.
Her almost two year-old son is with her during the day and she is thrilled to “learn and help my son out too.” Fernando is thriving at Drop-In, impressing her with how he is learning to use the potty, wash his hands, and use his words.
Nancy and her son Fernando, May 2014. Photo by Sandra Stambaugh
Now that Nancy is working at Drop-In and has Fernando with her, she has found that many aspects of her life are improving. Her relationship with her own parents has deepened and strengthened. Nancy is able to prove to herself and her family that she is responsible and is prioritizing her son and her career. She is independent, she is empowered, and is on the road to self-sufficiency.
Nancy recently joined the MotherLove alumni group where she helps mentor high school students in the program. She feels strongly about the value of having a peer talk to high school students about pregnancy and parenting, in addition to older role models and teachers. She wants to be that peer-voice, helping young mothers and letting them know that “things are not as easy as you think – but I can help, and MotherLove can help too.”
Holly says: “Nancy was very quiet and reserved for the first three months she was a participant in MotherLove. This Spring, she facilitated a powerful conversation with both teens and adults on a very sensitive topic – and she did a wonderful job. Over the past several years I’ve witnessed her find her voice. I believe she lives the truth of the YWCA mission.”
Your donation is vital to helping create success stories like Nancy’s. Thank you!
The MotherLove program is made possible with support from the City of Asheville, NC Dept Health and Human Services – Women’s Health Branch – Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative, Landwirth Foundation, Preyer Family Foundation, YWCA donors, and the United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County.