Having stayed in family shelters as a child, Iesha is committed to providing stability for her baby. Her goal is to have a home – all her own for the first time in her life – by Thanksgiving. She says, “I want Ieyani to have what I didn’t have; I want her first holiday to be in our own place.”
Out of work since the pandemic began, Iesha came to the Homeless Prenatal Program (HPP) when she found out she was pregnant. At the time she’d been couch-surfing and sleeping in her car. She soon became a resident of Jelani House, HPP’s transitional living program for pregnant moms. Iesha attended all the classes Jelani House offered and began therapy, because she says, “I wanted to be the best version of myself for my daughter; I wanted to have the strength to get it right.”
Iesha got it right. She gave birth to Ieyani in April and is savoring every moment of motherhood. She’s also looking to the future. She’s applying for apartments and enrolled in HPP’s Community Health Worker (CHW) Pre-Apprenticeship Program to refresh her job skills. “From now on,” says Iesha, “everything I do, I do for her.”
Jelani House was a stepping stone for Iesha and Ieyani, as it’s been for many families since it opened just before the pandemic. Homeless, pregnant people can enter the program at any point during their pregnancy and stay until their child turns one. While at Jelani House, residents have access to prenatal and parenting classes, case management, therapy, job training and housing search assistance. Moreover, Jelani House builds community, with groups, shared meals and celebrations that bring residents together to share strength and laughter.
While Jelani House has safely remained bustling with bellies and babies since the pandemic began, HPP Main continues to use the lessons taught by shelter-in-place to serve its families, and is currently offering remote case management with some in-person support. And it’s busier than ever, with a 20% increase in families seeking support this year.
I am so proud of how HPP’s staff has risen to the occasion that COVID presented, always keeping the health, safety and consistent care of our families as their north star. Staff has become proficient in remote consultation, even finding Zoom’s convenience an inspiration to add new classes and check-in with new moms more frequently. While I am hopeful that we’ll soon be able to celebrate our quarterly client baby showers and host our annual holiday party, I know that the past 20 months have strengthened our service-delivery and created more innovative pathways for connection and engagement.
Our success is made possible with partners like you. Your support enables us not only to provide diapers and food to families in need, but to support families like Iesha’s as they break the cycle of childhood poverty and homelessness. I hope that you’ll consider making an investment in our work, in our families – and in our future.
Founder & Executive Director