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January 19, 2016

In 2014, a young woman named Ebony was working at a call center to support her young son, Rashad. She worked hard to provide for her family as a single mom. Ebony provided support for her mother and brother as well, who lived close by. While life wasn’t easy, Ebony did her best to take care of her family with what she had.

Then, things got tougher. Ebony was pregnant and the economy was going downhill. Though Ebony is part of a large extended family, she didn’t have great support when things got tough. However, Ebony is self-reliant and independent. She realized that she needed help, drawing on her past experience from the Father Tolton Center. She reached out to Catholic Charities, who referred Ebony to Good Shepherd for our Expectant Parent program.

“I called and left a message and Denise got back to me right away,” Ebony said. I’m so used to taking care of other people that I didn’t even know I needed to take care of myself, but Denise did”. She first met with Denise Ward, one of our Expectant Parent Social Workers, in June.

Soon after Denise and Ebony met, new challenges faced Ebony. A series of deaths in the family occurred, one right after the other. Then, Ebony fell and lost her job due to the temporary disability. She had no maternity insurance, and her car was then repossessed. “Denise came along at just the right time”, Ebony said.

The first thing that Denise explained was that she was going to help Ebony focus on having a healthy, happy baby. She talked about how they were going to handle the situation and explained the difference between good stress and bad stress – the kind of stress that just freezes you and the kind of stress that motivates you to do something. Denise was speaking Ebony’s language right from the start. Ebony is naturally organized and has an excellent memory for numbers, dates, and information. By channeling Ebony’s inherent abilities for organization and information, then she was well equipped to make good decisions that had happy outcomes.

Over the next several months, Denise helped Ebony put a plan together. Denise helped Ebony in determining the causes of and managing stress, looking for another job, meeting her daily goals, and getting back to a point where she could help her mother. They even enlisted Ebony’s 6 year old son, Rashad, to help.

Ebony said, “One of the best things Denise did for me was give me information to read. Every time we came to another part of my pregnancy plan, like nutrition for me to help my baby, she would come by with all kinds of things to read, like homework assignments.” This approach that Denise provided fit seamlessly with Ebony’s natural abilities. “She got it all,” Denise said. “All I did was give her ideas and she focused on completing the task”. As Ebony’s delivery date drew closer, Denise brought her diapers, wipes, and baby clothes.

Baby Ryan was born on December 2, 2014, healthy and happy. One year later, Ebony’s family is that: a family. Rashad, seven now, loves being a big brother. Ryan eats, laughs, toddles, and fulfills his role as a happy baby. Ebony is the most confident that she has been in her life, now knowing how to take care of herself so that she can take care of the people that depend on her. It should come as no surprise that she keeps working on an organized plan. She has a new full-time job and plans to go back to school to study either nursing or pharmacy.

Denise closed out her pregnancy plan in December 2015 after completing all of her post-natal visits and progress reports, but she maintains her friendship with Denise. In October, Denise stopped by with some baby clothes for Ryan. Ebony gave them right back to help another mother facing big challenges, along with some advice: “It’s okay to get help. You don’t have to do it all on your own. In fact, you can’t do it all on your own. I’m so thankful to Good Shepherd and Denise”.