The end of this chapter has come, and baby Samara will be turning 2 on August 11. I can’t believe the time has flown by so quickly. I recently looked at a picture of her first day at the childcare center, in December of 2015, and was amazed at how little she was. Looking at that picture also brought back memories of who I was two years ago.
Samara’s being part of the LifeHope Childcare Center hasn’t affected only her; I too was affected in the process. While she was nurtured and loved on at the center, I was also being nurtured and loved on. While part of the childcare program, I learned many new skills and was held accountable for my personal, mental, financial, and spiritual goals.
Having an advocate through this process helped me to be able to have a friend to talk to about life’s stresses. But my advocate wasn’t there only to listen; she was also there to guide. When I started in the program, there were goals I was expected to reach, and I also had personal goals I wanted to work toward. One of the ways I worked toward achieving those goals was by taking classes at Northland.
Taking classes such as Faith and Finances helped me get a better understanding of how God wants me to handle my money. I also learned practical money-saving tips and made friends in the process. Also, we had a Health and Nutrition class that helped me deal with my daughter’s food allergies. This class showed me it was possible to deal with her allergies on a budget.
One of my favorite classes was Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI). This class opened my eyes to new ways of speaking to my daughter, how to introduce new subjects, and how to deal with those dreaded temper tantrums.
I think it’s fitting that my last class in the program is Love Defined. This class kind of brings it all together. It’s a reminder to me that God loves me and He wants the best for me. This class was also an opportunity for me to learn from other moms in the program and share my stories and testimonies with them.
I don’t want to forget about our Mommy Night Out earlier this year. Many people don’t realize how much of an introvert I am. It is a daily struggle to force myself not to hide in the corner. So going on a competitive team scavenger hunt wasn’t my idea of fun. However, not only did I have a great time, but I also made connections with other moms. Of course, our team won!
One of my favorite parts of the program was doing volunteer work through Local Serve. Giving back to a church that has given my daughter and me so much was a blessing. I enjoyed meeting new people, interacting with the community, and just getting a chance to get out and be with other adults.
But let's be real; being in the program hasn’t always been a bed of roses. It was a struggle to work a full-time job and then have to attend evening classes at Northland. It was hard having to be accountable for what I do with my money. It wasn’t easy being told I had to give up a Saturday to do something I wouldn’t normally do.
In the end, it was all worth it. You get out of the program what you put into it. There were times when I had to remind myself that I am here because of the choices I made. That meant I needed to step up to the plate, be accountable, and accomplish my goals if I wanted to succeed. I had to remember that the ultimate goal was to get to a place in my life where I am free—financially free, spiritually free, emotionally free, and physically free.
Is life going to be perfect after I leave the program? No. But I am not the same person today that I was when I began. Was the road easy? No. But it sure was worth it.
My advice to future moms is to seriously check themselves before being part of the program. If all you are looking for is free or discounted childcare, then apply for 4C (government-sponsored childcare assistance). But if you are ready to grow and change your current situation while your child is being nurtured by loving people, then this program is for you!
Now that it is time for me to leave the program, as Samara is turning 2, how has my life changed, and what goals do I have? I am in line for a management position at my job. I have a clearer understanding of God’s purpose for me. I have more patience when dealing with life’s stresses. I have a better understanding of how to balance my budget. I am saving myself for the man I am allowing God to choose for me.
Most importantly, though, I have a goal to pay it forward. I want to be able to speak into the lives of other single moms. I want to be able to hold them accountable, love on them, and be their biggest cheerleader.
I want to say thank you to all the childcare workers, volunteers, and people who donated and prayed for us. I especially want to thank Jamila, Melissa, Amany, Marylee, and Michaela. These ladies will forever be in my heart and prayers.
I can’t forget a big thank-you to the person who had a dream to want Northland to start this child care ministry for single moms. I sometimes wonder if they truly imaged what an impact this program would have on the children, the moms, the congregation, and the community. I look forward to seeing the LifeHope Childcare Center evolve and exceed everyone’s expectations.
To learn how you can get involved with this ministry, contact Melissa Rivera at firstname.lastname@example.org or 407-949-4017.