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May 18, 2013

Dana came to Good Shepherd’s Maternity Shelter pregnant, homeless, and desperate.  Although she was still in a relationship with her baby’s father, the relationship wasn’t a healthy one.  He was sometimes violent and abusive, and he was unable to provide sufficient support for her and her unborn baby. She’d lived briefly with her boyfriend and his father, but the father’s girlfriend demanded she leave. Sadly, Dana’s relationship with her own parents was a stormy one. Her mother struggled with mental illness and drugs and had cut off contact with Dana years ago. Her father had attempted to help at various times, but the pregnancy was the last straw; he, too, had cut her off. She had nowhere to go. Early on she struggled at Good Shepherd. She was oppositional and verbally aggressive. She regularly threatened to assault staff members and runway, even getting into a scuffle or two. She was also smart, independent, and deeply invested in giving her baby a better future. Eventually, Dana came to trust the staff at Good Shepherd. We helped her re-enroll in high school, providing parenting and independent living classes, and ensured she had appropriate pre-natal care. Over the course of a few months, Dana made steady progress. She gave birth to a healthy son, and she demonstrated herself to be a loving and affectionate mother. Dana managed to graduate from high school a semester early with honors. She became a mentor for some of the younger girls in the program, encouraging them to “work the   program.” She secured a job in a medical lab, and we linked her with an independent living program in which she could have her own apartment. Some months later, we heard that Dana and her son were doing great. She was still working at the lab, but also attending college—the first person in her family to do so. Great going Dana!