April 20, 2014
Dear Humanitarian Aid Fund Friends:
Central Ohio Youth for Christ sincerely thanks you for your generous support of our mission to reach young people throughout Central Ohio. Last year our various ministries impacted more than 5,000 teens (and their families). We’re especially excited to share that we presented the gospel to more than 1,800 teens with 239 of them deciding to begin a relationship with Christ. We also had nearly 150 teens ask to be mentored by our staff or committed volunteers.
I’d like to tell you about one of our programs that is having a significant impact in Franklinton – our Teen Parents program.
In 1985 we began to serve the young people in Franklinton. We saw fairly early that many of these teen girls become pregnant and drop out of school. Most of them intend to finish high school through ECOT or another computer-based program, but their chaotic lives and child care issues often keep them from being successful at this. We knew in order to effectively serve this community we needed to address this issue. That’s why in 2006, when we opened the City Life Center, we began a Teen Parents program.
Teen Parents focuses on four goals for teens affected by pregnancy: to not have a repeat pregnancy; to complete their education; to be provided with a mentor; to be taught skills in parenting, relationships and life. Our staff and volunteers transport the moms and their kids to the Center, help them with their coursework in the computer lab while their kids are babysat next door, and provide them a free lunch. We also provide classes and discussions in parenting, relationships and life skills.
This is a very transient population. Many of these teenagers move away or leave the program never to be heard from again. However, we feel we are making inroads with these vulnerable parents. During the last eight years that the program has been in place we’ve had about 60 teen parents (mostly moms) participate in some aspect of the program. To date, 14 have taken and passed the Ohio Graduation Test and earned their high school diplomas. Two of the moms have gone on to take classes at Columbus State. Even the ones who don’t complete their education have positively benefited from the time they did spend in the program.
We also have great opportunity to share Christ with these young mothers. Many of them have little or no experience with the church. They encounter the Christian message in both words and action. The fact that we are providing for them in so many tangible ways – free of charge – is a great witness to them. The staff and volunteers often go the extra mile to serve these ladies, even helping them with various things in their life outside of the program (moving, applying for social service funds, childcare, etc). The staff and volunteers also have conversations with these ladies about the Gospel and answer their questions respectfully and graciously. The moms have an open invitation to Bible studies. Many come to the program not understanding the Gospel and feeling like there’s no way they can ever be good enough to go to heaven. A great majority of them hear the Gospel and eventually realize they can be good enough through a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Here are two stories of teenagers who earned their high school degree and are planning for the future. They have also accepted Christ and are working on following His direction for their lives.
Susan and her sister were molested by her mother’s boyfriend for many years. In addition, her baby’s dad is addicted to drugs. She came to us when she was 16 with a toddler and was very sporadic in her attendance and her focus. Soon after we met her she became pregnant with her second child. Susan then became serious about her school work. She broke up with her babies’ dad as he would not stop doing drugs, completed her high school studies and graduated, signed up to go to Columbus State Community College and got a job at a local thrift store.
Mariah had a father who abandoned the family as a young girl. Her baby’s dad is intensely abusive and addicted to drugs. Mariah had a difficult time giving up marijuana and this relationship. Through the help of our staff and volunteers, Mariah graduated, gave up both the abusive relationship and smoking pot, and obtained a job at a local hospital where she plans to move up in positions and eventually attend their nursing school.
Thanks again for your help in serving Franklinton through YFC’s Teen Parents program.