National Scholarship Month – Building Resilience in our Teen Mothers

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Every year Families First offers scholarships to help our students as they transition into college or post-secondary education. These funds allow students’ families to cover major costs including tuition, books, travel and housing fees. In celebration of National Endowment Month, we honor this year’s honorees Brenda Guillen and Nellis Pereira, who participated in The Teenage Pregnancy and Parenting Program (TAPP) connects young mothers aged 13-19 who live in low-income families with unique resources to meet their emotional, psychological and physical needs. This money helps our mothers build resilience and reach their full potential.

“Our mothers want their children to thrive. They want to make decisions that are best for their children. They really want to be good parents,” said Michelle Brooke Coleman, Adolescent Support Specialist at Family First TAPP.

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Our programs focus on providing young mothers with the tools, connections, and resources to build their resilience and ensure they can manage stress and challenges while pursuing undergraduate or post-secondary education. A key component of helping these young mothers thrive is access to behavioral health services from Families First. Throughout the counseling process, TAPP takes a holistic approach that extends beyond the young mother to include her family and the child’s father. Parental involvement encourages clients to share experiences with their children. We know that teenage parents also play a vital role in their children’s development. This focus on support is an important part of the counseling process and increases the odds of success for young mothers.

“Family First helped me by advising my child, how to watch her and how to teach certain things for her age. With school, Family First motivated me to continue my education and always be positive. They taught me how to learn how to face challenges and they are always supportive of me,” shared Nellis who got The Maribeth Lemmer Scholarship and the Carol Dunlap Reiser Scholarship.

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During COVID, TAPP has found ways to further expand resources to help young mothers. Many moms missed out on the community, so the TAPP team got creative and started handing things out to moms and making social distancing and corridor visits to help them feel connected to the outside world during the pandemic.

“I am fortunate to be with Family First. They helped me and my parents through difficult times. Since I was young, it has been hard for me to understand motherhood,” said Brenda, Carol Dunlap Reser Scholarship recipient. “The Family First team has also helped me learn how to take care of myself and how to Dealing with feelings from the past.

The Carol Dunlap Reiser Scholarship is in memory of our former Chairman, Carol Dunlap Reiser. This scholarship is awarded to two young women in Family First programs who will each receive a scholarship to use for education, training, books, or other educational needs. The Marybeth Leamer Scholarship is awarded to a young Family First participant who is a high school student and is intended to assist with education, training, books, or other items for attending college or post-secondary training.

As this year’s scholarship honorees look to the future, they focus on providing a better future for themselves and their children.

Nellis notes, “I want to help a lot of kids. I am looking for a dental school. I just want to learn things that will benefit me later in life. I want to be able to give my daughter what she wants and needs.”

“I want to become a midwife, but if I can’t be a midwife, I want to become a pediatrician. I want to show my daughter that even though I got pregnant at a very young age, I made it through life,” Brenda shared.

Join Families First this holiday season to help our families enjoy the holidays! The Adopny Family helps bring holiday smiles and cheer into our families’ homes! Thanks to Macy’s for your support in spreading the holiday cheer. Join us today as a wish maker: Family First Donation Campaign (

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