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run by the Volunteers of America. It’s intended to be both a safe place for expectant and new teen mothers and a training ground to turn them into better moms. Up to six pregnant teenagers or moms can stay there at a time. The atmosphere at the house is not much different from an ordinary family home — in the summer, the lush green backyard hosts birthday parties, complete with balloons and decorations. There are parties at Christmas and Thanksgiving. In the kitchen, the young mothers take turns cooking for the rest of the house. Some enter with plenty of cooking skills, while others are taught the art of making spaghetti or tacos, working up to more elaborate dishes like casseroles. “They’ll teach you how to deep clean, they’ll teach you to how to cook,” says Asmin Foster, a former resident. “If you need help with your kids— when I had twin boys, they helped me.” They’re given support to make goals and achieve them. But the most important piece, Staples says, is “helping stop the generational cycle of abuse and neglect.” In a sense, these mothers are taught to become fluent in “baby,” translating their children’s cries and actions into what they really need. “We’re teaching them to be the best safe haven for their children. Our program is their safe haven,” Staples says. “Our statement is to always be bigger, stronger, wiser and kind.” As she talks, Staples is mostly understated. She shies away from photographs. But to the young women she’s mentored, her support means everything. One of the house’s ‘graduates’ got married and moved to Fort Hood, Texas. When U.S. Army psychiatrist Nidal Hasan went on a shooting spree on the base in November 2009, killing 13 people, the base shut down. That mother couldn’t get to her children at the base’s day care, and she couldn’t reach her husband. So she called Staples. “I just talked to her,” Staples says. “I talked to her every 45 minutes to an hour until she received her children back into her arms.” The house offers an atmosphere of consistency and fairness, and while there are consequences for breaking its rules, Staples says it’s important for the young women to know that even when they’re disciplined, it’s not done in anger. “They learn that then they can trust,” Staples says. “That even if they fall down and make mistakes, we still care about them.” n

A necessary indulgence. Massage • CACI Facelift • Wraps and Scrubs Facial Treatments • Nail Salon Hair Salon • Makeup and Waxing A glass of champagne included with services. Must be 21 years of age. Complimentary aromatherapy steam room with services. Complimentary Valet parking with services.

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Health 43 9/25/13 2:40 PM

Inhealth October 2013  
Inhealth October 2013