Monkees, Meet Sarah. She’s about to take us on a wild, wonderful ride.
I am Sarah Nielsen, I’m a Monkee, and I’m also the Executive Director of Project Home Indy. Project Home Indy is a small non-profit agency in Indianapolis that serves up to five homeless teen moms, age 15-19, in a safe, home-like residential facility. The girls who move to Project Home Indy are desperate to find a home, and we provide a wraparound, intensive service that allows them to move into our community with their babies and function as independent families. We believe that teens are capable of becoming good parents, but they need coordinated and comprehensive services and support to become heads of their own households.
Working at Project Home Indy is wonderful and challenging. Every so often I get the very special job of interviewing a prospective resident. We get many phone calls each week from young teen moms who are desperate to live at Project Home Indy. They are frightened, homeless, and hopeful that we’ll have room. Since we only have room for five young families at a time, I am too often saying no. No room. I’m so sorry.
But sometimes there is hope that I might be able to say YES, and for a moment, I feel like I’m giving someone the golden ticket on Willy Wonka.
Last week, as I interviewed a prospective resident, a tear ran down her cheek as she said:
“You know, I just want to live somewhere where the adults work, and don’t run out of money or gas. I don’t want to be scared of being evicted. I want to live somewhere where I don’t have to count the diapers I have for the rest of the week, and wonder if I’ll skip dinner. I want to have my own bed and my own room. I want my baby to only see the best way to be, the way things should be.”
Sometimes I can choke my own tears back and maintain a professional distance. Not this time. Because here’s the thing- the life she is dreaming of- the one where people work and have enough diapers and food- that IS the way things should be. That’s the home she deserved to grow up in years ago. That’s the home that she deserves to raise her baby in. And that’s the home we provide.
So in response to her dream – I ran through our rules and programs with her. I explained that since so few people get to live here, we must know that she’s serious about her future and her education. We must know that she’ll work as hard as we work to move her towards her goals. She looked at me steadily and said,
“I’m not scared. I’m ready for this. You guys don’t sound so bad. I need someone to help keep me on track.”
I wish I had a magic sense that could tell us whether or not she’ll be successful here. I don’t know that. But I do know that she deserves a CHANCE. We all do.
In the work I do, there is a certain level of overwhelming, heart-aching pain for what these teens and their babies go through. Most adults in their lives have let them down. They don’t deserve the hardship they have endured, and the odds are stacked against them. These girls are facing a highly documented uphill battle. Teen pregnancy is full of daunting statistics about dropouts and poverty. It’s heavy.
And so I wish people could really see these kids. Really see them. Not just the statistics, but the kids. They are so brave, so gritty, so scrappy and smart. They are strong, and they have, and always will, survive. They are WARRIORS. They have endured things that most adults would find unfathomable. And they are making it. They are getting up, putting one foot in front of the other, and carving out a new life for themselves and their babies. They are cracking jokes, making friends, and teaching their babies the Itsy Bitsy Spider.
Down came the rain and washed the spider out… out came the sun and dried up all the rain, and the itsy bitsy spider climbed up the spout again.
It’s like that.
100% of our high school seniors have graduated. 100% of our babies have been born full-term and at a healthy birth weight and 75% of our girls have found employment while they have lived with us. And when they leave- when they move out and on and up – they call us. They call us to tell us all about their baby’s birthday party, their college classes, their new apartment, their jobs. They call to ask us what baby food to buy, and how to understand a light bill. They came to us feeling like they were all alone in the world, but they leave with a family. They learn, here, that We Belong To Each Other.
Monkees- I am asking you to help me raise the funds necessary to say YES to the teenage warrior I met last week. The one I just told you about. This Love Flash Mob is for HER. Right now she’s alone and without a home – but we don’t have to leave her that way. You – WE can offer her and her baby a CHANCE. She doesn’t know. She’s out there, wondering what she’ll do next. Why no one will help her. She doesn’t know. She doesn’t know that a WORLD FULL of women warriors are about to sweep her up in love and give her and her baby a home and a future. She doesn’t know that the world loves her yet. But she will.
It’s a tall order. We follow all state regulations and staffing rules so the money we need to offer this girl and her baby a home for a year is a large sum- Eighty three thousand dollars.
As a small non-profit, we run on the leanest budget possible, and every dollar raised goes directly towards supporting client services. The truth is, providing services at this level is expensive. This funding provides a family with two highly trained, passionate and supportive staff twenty-four hours a day. It provides this mom with a staff member to hold her hand during her first ultrasound, and someone to watch her child while she takes her final exam in Algebra. It gives her programs on how to become a better parent, how to balance a checkbook, and hands-on help grocery shopping and cooking. It’s diapers, a backpack, a bus pass, and co-pays, and interview clothes. It’s her first months’ rent and a crib when she leaves our house. It gives her a highly talented therapist to untangle and help her heal from the trauma and neglect she’s suffered in her life, and a staff member to sit on the couch with her at 2am to let her know that sometimes, babies just cry, and it’s not her fault. It’s full support, and then some.
After all, we are not going wide, we are going deep.
If, within the next two days, we raise the 83 thousand dollars needed to care for this girl and her baby for a year, I promise you that I will go to her and BRING HER HOME. In your name, Monkees- in the name of LOVE, I will bring her home.
And when Glennon comes to visit us at Project Home Indy in May, she will meet this young mama. And she will give her a hug that is sixty five thousand strong. And Glennon will tell her that she is Not Alone and that She is Loved. And because you will have turned your love into ACTION- this young mama, this warrior, will believe her.
Let’s bring her home, Monkees. Let’s show her that the world DOES care about her and DOES care about her baby…the world cares enough to make HER LIFE OUR business. Let’s make this young mama our business.
Love Flash Mob Rules:
- The Flash Mob will run for 48 hours. After the 48 hours are over – the flash mob is closed. Whatever we have at that time is what we have. In the unbelievable event that we raise more than what is needed, the overflow will go to Monkee See – Monkee Do to help other parents in need.
2. THE MAXIMUM DONATION IS $25 dollars. Small things with great love.
3. If you have $5 to give- give it. This is NOT ABOUT THE AMOUNT. It’s about the love being offered. Give what you can (UP TO $25) and rest in the fact that YOU ARE MAKING A DIFFERENCE. Changing the world for one mama today. That’s a decent day’s work.
Allright, Lovers of the Light. Let’s Make it Rain for this mama.
CLICK THIS BUTTON TO DONATE NOW!
There is no greater honor than participating in the lifting up of another woman. None.
Today, you raised 85 thousand dollars in five and a half hours. THAT’S MORE THAN $250 DOLLARS PER MINUTE. I just received this message from Sarah:
We called her and told her that it’s REALLY going to happen. She’s packing faster now. She doesn’t have much, so it will be easy. I heard Jamie, our case manager say on the phone, “YES, REALLY”, “I REALLY MEAN IT” several times. We get to say yes. Because of you and the Monkees.
She’s packing. She’s crying and packing.
GOD SAID YES TO HER TODAY.
GOD SAID YES.
THROUGH YOU- GOD SAID YES. YES- this world cares for you. YES- you are worthy of becoming a mama and a good one and YES you are not only worthy of that but worthy of HELP. Because you matter. Your baby matters. What happens to the two of you MATTERS. You matter to women all over the WORLD who have NEVER even met you, sister. Because you and that baby – you belong to us. And we belong to you.
We Belong To Each Other.
She comes home tonight. It’s done. It’s done.
We will end this Flash Mob tonight. Don’t stop giving. We have more sisters to help. These are some of the women waiting for our help from Monkee See – Monkee Do. They are hoping and praying that we will have room.
– a woman whose husband has left her and her kids
– a family who needs to travel for treatment for a bi-polar child
– travel for a Monkee sister to meet her soul-Monkee-sister to hold her hand as her child goes through a bone marrow transplant
– mama who is bed-ridden and needs surgery to be able to care for her daughter with special needs
– mama who is drowning in stress and worry over how to pay for surgeries that gave her son fingers and -toes and more surgeries needed in the future
– mama and daughter who both have cancer
LET US CARRY ON, WARRIORS.
I’ll update you every hour.
I do not care what anyone says. It cannot ever, ever get better than this.
With Love and Gratitude –
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
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