A love of learning leads a former resident back to St. Anne’s
Fifteen months after Susana was born in El Salvador, her mother moved to the United States, leaving Susana in the care of a relative. When Susana was 15 years old, she became pregnant. The lack of jobs and high crime in El Salvador prompted Susana’s mother to bring the pregnant girl to join her in the States. Their initially warm reunion turned ugly. Mother and daughter were strangers. There was no place for Susana in her mother’s new family. Susana gave birth to Laura in 2003, and her mother picked her up from the hospital… but instead of taking her home, dropped Susana off at a shelter for girls with babies. “It was very difficult,” says Susana. “I didn’t know people who could help me. I was on my own with a child and no English and no money.” During her two years at the shelter, Susana enrolled in high school and fell in love with learning.
At age 18, she had to leave the shelter. She was in luck because St. Anne’s had just opened its Transitional Housing Program for young mothers aging out of the child welfare system. Without programs like ours, young mothers like Susana suffer on the streets or shuffle between friends’ and relatives’ crowded homes. “I started getting good grades because I had amazing support at St. Anne’s,” says Susana. Full-day child care enabled her to go to school and do homework. “Parenting classes helped me be a better mother,” she says. “Also, the family literacy program helped me teach my daughter to like books.” While at St. Anne’s, Susana earned her high school diploma and started attending community college.
After two years, Susana left St. Anne’s and continued her college studies. Laura graduated from St. Anne’s Early Learning Center. Little by little, paying out-of-pocket for classes, Susana earned an AA degree. Grateful for the future St. Anne’s gave her, Susana began volunteering in one of St. Anne’s Early Learning Centers. In 2014, she came full circle and joined St. Anne’s staff, where she is now a lead program assistant in an Early Learning Center. Susana continues to work toward her bachelor’s in business and is saving to buy a condominium. Laura’s future is bright, too. Now age 13, she is a gifted student in a magnet school. Susana says, “I always show her the pictures and tell her the story of the amazing support I got at St. Anne’s. I was able to improve myself and become independent, which helped her out, too.”
Please note, Susana and Laura’s names have been changed to protect their privacy.