Recently I was invited as a professional who works a lot with families, and especially pregnancy and babies, to attend a teen pregnancy panel. It was hosted at The United Way headquarters in Cincinnati by a non-profit I had not heard of before: Rosemary’s Baby Co. Listening to the stories and experiences of the panelists, I was struck by how little I know about some parts of the very city I live and work in! For example, did you know that nearly 1 out of 2 kids living in Cincinnati experience poverty?
After the conference, I made a point to connect with the founder of Rosemary’s Baby Co., Rosemary! Her openness about her own story, and how it led her to start a growing non-profit two years ago really inspired me. She told me more about her company, whose mission it is to help teen parents master the concepts of self-leadership, avoid government dependency and leave a legacy. Here is a little snapshot of that conversation!
What is your own story and family history that led to you starting Rosemary’s Baby Co? What was your own experience of teen pregnancy like?
I was a teen mom 22 years ago at 16. My only options were abortion, adoption, and parenting classes. Parenting classes taught me about birth and delivery but provided no life skills that would help me to transition from childhood to parenthood. In addition, there was a lack of support from school and community; I was ostracized, shamed and judged harshly by adults because I had a baby. I lost many friends because their parents did not want their daughters around the promiscuous teen mother. They believed getting pregnant would rub off on their daughters or I would influence their daughters to become teen moms. This could not be farther from the truth.
Following graduation from Withrow High School, my daughter and I lived in income-based housing. I worked part-time as a dietary aide at Marjorie P Lee in Hyde Park, while I tried to go to Cincinnati State. Eventually, money became a huge barrier and I eventually got a full-time job at the United States Post Office.
Being a teen mom, I was suicidal, hopeless, and constantly felt as though I was failing my daughter. I dreamed of a life for her that looked like the families I saw on television i.e. The Beavers, The Huxtables, and Gilmore Girls.
What did it take for you to be able to “break the mold” so to speak in your own family?
To break the mold, I identified there was a problem. My peers and I made a declaration to ourselves and our children that they would not be young parents or experience the challenges we did. We walked the talk and set a plan in motion for our children that included education, marriage and a new direction that inspired greatness.
What other community supports did you find to help you, and what are some of the things you had to figure out for yourself that you wish were not barriers for others?
Community support organizations like WIC, Model Management, and community action commission helped me at times when I needed milk for my baby, affordable housing and help with utilities. These services are still available to support young parents today.
However, I had to figure out how to love my baby, how to navigate social service agencies and sign up for benefits like health insurance. Rent, bills, credit and managing money, when there was very little to manage, were also things I had to learn. In addition, I had to learn what a healthy relationship looked like. I had to learn to love myself because those I thought loved me, turned their backs on me. Finally, I had to learn forgiveness.
When was Rosemary’s Baby Co established, and what did it take to get it off the ground?
RBC was established in 2013, but launched in November 2016. I built the program over 2 years while enrolled in my Master’s at Mount St Joseph University. I have a great network of support and mentors who have built sustainable businesses locally and regionally; they are teaching me how to fish. Gale Smith, Founder of The Gale Smith Foundation, actually encouraged me to just do it and was instrumental in RBC launching. He passed away before my first year but I learned more from him in 7 months than I learned in any classroom.
Putting the right leaders in place is vital. Starting a non-profit takes grit. People on your journey may tell you to quit, merge with another company, or put negative thoughts in your mind. Don’t allow those burdens to break you, use them for your breakthrough.
What has Rosemary’s Baby Co accomplished in the last year or so that you are proud of? What ways do you hope the organization grows going forward?
Rosemary’s Babies Co had little credibility when we launched November 2016. We are most proud of our partnerships with United Way of Greater Cincinnati, Tri-health, 4C for Children, L’bae and other great companies that help us to implement our program. RBC was voted as a finalist for Best Of Parenting Resource. We also won 2nd Place in Social Venture Partners Fast Pitch. We hope to grow forward by increasing our volunteers and the number of families we serve!
How can our readers get involved in support of Rosemary’s Baby Co?
- Volunteer: We always need volunteers. As a volunteer, we match a position that fits your skills. We have positions to mentor, teach, administrative, board leader, training and development & so more. Volunteers can do so at the office or remotely. If we don’t have a position, we will build you one.
- Join Us/Be An Ambassador: Our Legends Showcase & Gala is Sunday, April 1 from 5-8pm. Experience a night of jazz, blues and soul. If you cannot attend, consider donating or sharing our message.
- Donate: We are always in need of tablets, bus cards, and gift cards for our families.
- Give: Rosemary’s Babies is a 501c3 and depends on donations to provide our two programs: the 24/Confidante Care and The Leadership & Legacy program. Donations are tax-deductible. Please consider donating!
Where can readers go to learn more?
Find us on rosemarysbabies.co or (513) 813-8336. We are also on all social platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, G+!