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Hope Finds a Home

Project Home Indy gives young mothers and their children a chance to thrive

May 2013

$83,000. That's the amount of money Sarah needed before she could say yes.

A week before, Sarah Nielsen, Executive Director of Project Home Indy, had interviewed a prospective resident – a homeless, teenage mother looking for a place to rest her head and house her infant. "I just want to live somewhere where the adults work and don't run out of money or gas. I want my baby to only see the best way to be, the way things should be." This was the young mother's plea.

Sarah knew she needed a miracle – an $83,000 miracle – to make this wish come true, and she knew just where to find one.

Meet Glennon Melton, founder of the website, Momastery, and author of Carry On, Warrior: Thoughts on Life Unarmed (April 2013). Glennon is an Internet sensation with more than 70,000 Facebook followers. And her fans – also known as Monkees – are not simply silent observers, they are love warriors intent on bringing unexpected blessings into the lives of others. When Glennon asks, they answer.

And for Sarah's' young mother, their rally cry was deafening.

The rules were simple for the event, called the Love Flash Mob: individuals could donate up to $25 within a 24-hour period. "Small things with big love," Glennon explained. By the time the deadline arrived, Glennon and the Monkees had raised over $100,000, and Sarah was able to say yes.

Nearly a decade ago, four Indianapolis friends discussed a disturbing story about how many single, teenage Hoosier girls were pregnant and without resources. Fueled by concern for these young mothers and their babies, Project Home Indy was born in 2004. In 2010, Sarah was hired as Executive Director, and in 2011, Project Home Indy opened its door and its collective heart.

The building, which houses up to five girls and five children at a time, is on a quiet street near downtown Indianapolis. There is no flashing sign to announce its presence, but a blue SpongeBob playhouse edged with bright purple trim hints that young lives are being nurtured and developed inside those brick walls.

"Our goal," Sarah explains, "is to foster self-sufficiency for these young mothers. We want them to finish high school, pursue post-secondary education, and secure steady, stable employment. We teach them how to use public transportation, we provide prenatal and post-natal education classes, we offer breastfeeding support. Our home is staffed 24/7 with employees who help the girls develop life skills, such as cooking, cleaning and childcare. Someone is there for them when their babies wake up crying in the middle of the night. Someone teaches them how to respond appropriately, how to cope. We're not just housing girls, we're growing parents."

And it's working. All of the Project Home Indy babies thus far have been born full term and at a healthy birth weight. The young mothers who've graduated from the home continue to keep in touch. One is attending classes at IUPUI, two are at Ivy Tech, another is completing her CNA courses.

"Our goal is to go deep, not wide," Sarah says. "We hope to hear from our girls in fifteen years. We want to know which high school their children are attending, that the foundation we provided is being perpetuated from generation to generation. This is an intimate experience. I see them in their pajamas. I know what they eat for breakfast. I saw one of our babies take his first step."

The impact of Project Home Indy is palpable. One young mother explains, "Before I came here, no one was ever up in my business. No one bothered me. But now I know I should bother my daughter when she gets older. I'm going to ask her why she didn't do her homework; I'm going to make her eat her vegetables."

Fundraising remains Sarah's biggest concern. $83,000 is a lot of money, and that's the amount it takes to say yes to one girl for one year. 65% of her budget goes toward staffing. With someone on-site at all times, expenses are high. But the cost of having these young mothers remain homeless and in desperate need of support is even higher.

"I wish people could see these kids," Sarah says. "I mean, really see them. They are so brave, so gritty, so scrappy and smart. They have endured things most adults would find unfathomable. And they are making it."

To learn more about how you can support Project Home Indy and a young mother in need, visit www.projecthomeindy.org. If you'd like to hear Glennon Melton speak at Project Home Indy's fundraiser on May 5, you can purchase tickets here: http://projecthomeindyandmomastery.eventbrite.com.

At this house, love wins.

Tags: In This Issue, Infant & Baby, Local

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