Meet Victoria, Alley’s House 2016 Graduate

Victoria is 18 years old with three beautiful children, Gisel, Matthew, and Violet. Victoria dropped out of high school after completing the 10th grade because she started working full time and decided she did not want to go back to school. When Victoria first came to Alley’s House a few years ago, she was not in a good mental/emotional state. “I felt like a loser to be honest,” she explained, “I was pregnant with a dead-end job and I didn’t want to be stuck there anymore. I always wanted to finish school, which was my main goal.”

After starting the program in 2014, she dropped out soon after that. She was working at the same time and felt like she couldn’t do both. She described it as being too hard. A few years later, Victoria came back to Alley’s House. When asked what made her decide to come back to finally earn her GED, she said “I realized I couldn’t do it by myself, I knew Alley’s House would help me and my kids out.”

Victoria earned her GED in the spring of 2016 and graduated from Alley’s House in June 2016. Now that she has earned her GED, she already applied to college and plans to go to El Centro to get her certificate to become a diagnostic medical sonographer. “My favorite part of Alley’s House is the staff,” she said with a huge smile, “The first time I was at Alley’s House I was out of the loop, and I didn’t talk to anyone or I didn’t know what to do. But when I came back they really started talking to me, and they helped me through everything.” Alley’s House congratulates Victoria on her GED completion and graduation. We will be here for her and her family as she continues to pursue her goals!

Meet Shanterrica, Alley’s House 2013 Graduate

Choked up, with the tears beginning to fall, Shanterrica began to talk about a turning point for her at Alley’s House.
“I was ready to quit. I was having a really hard time. [Alley’s House Program Director] has been a big help. She talked to me and told me that I remind her of herself a lot. We both had our babies at the same age. She reassured me that I wasn’t the only one going through the hard stuff and I could get through it. (As a graduate of the Alley’s House program herself) She is living proof that this program works. Her taking the time to listen and really hear me made me feel encouraged and made all the difference for me.”

Shanterrica is a young mother of a beautiful 2 year old girl. After her daughter was born she  dropped out of school, had access to few  resources, and was making  little progress towards a successful future. When asked about why she started the Alley’s House program she explained that both her granny and  mother were former teen mothers who dropped out of school. She knew her mother struggled  to provide for her as a young mom and decided she wanted a better life for herself and her daughter.

“Alley’s House has helped me put together a plan for my life and to set goals,” she explained with a smile. As a part of Alley’s House program Shanterrica completed the career planning assessment, career profile, and career coaching. She discovered different career paths that  compliment to her personality and skills through the assessment and profile process.

Today, Shanterrica has passed her GED, graduated from Alley’s House, and enrolled in El Centro Community College with plans to become a registered nurse. Unfortunately, Shanterrica’s struggle as a teen mother is all too common in North Texas. In fact, Dallas county leads the state in the number of births to teens, with births to adolescent moms 17 years of age and under in Dallas county totaling more than 2,000 per year.

Meet Emerald, Alley’s House 2012 Graduate

Emerald, a 21 year old mother of two, has been attending Alley’s House for about a year and a half, and is graduating from the program next month. Before Alley’s House, Emerald  dropped out of school to support her two sons and some extended family members. She worked minimum wage jobs, bounced  from home to home, and tried to make enough money to support her children.

She began working as a security guard with her sister, but  still struggled to provide a stable life for her children. A friend suggested that Emerald attend Alley’s House. At first she struggled to stay focused and keep her schedule at Alley’s House. She almost dropped out of the program when a family member became ill, which changed her perspective.

“If I stayed, I could get away from all of the unnecessary drama going on and be in a better environment for my kids,” Emerald said.

She found Alley’s House challenging and one program that impacted her life the most was the weekly Love & Logic parenting workshops.

Emerald shared about the change she saw in her children after she learned Love & Logic parenting techniques, “My two year old was out of control and Love and Logic changed everything. Now my kids are more respectable towards me and others. They clean up their messes, say excuse me, do not yell at me, and do not expect me to do everything for them.”

Emerald received endless help to prepare for the GED with one-on-one tutoring with Alley’s House volunteer, Russell. “Russell is the math magician,” stated Emerald. “He sits down and explains it until I understand.”

After she graduates, Emerald plans on working as a security guard for a year in order to save money for college so she can study criminal justice. “All my life I was surrounded by bad things, criminals, drug usage, domestic violence, and family members in and out of prison.”

Her goal is to “help people get out of abusive situations and help people open their eyes and lead them down the right path.”

Her sons Luke, 5, and Jose, 2, are her inspiration. She would recommend Alley’s House to any young, struggling mother.

Emerald shares that her experience at “Alley’s House has made me  wise and independent, taught me how to become a better person, while learning that you have to work for what you get in life.”

Meet Suzanna, Alley’s House 2011 Client

When she had her son at 16, Suzanna dropped out of high school, mainly because childcare was an issue. “I didn’t want to quit high school,” she said, “but who was going to watch Eric?”

Suzanna enrolled in Alley’s House in July and comes in each week to participate in counseling, GED tutoring, or Microsoft Office training. “It’s a little harder being a mom and trying to get your GED,” she said, “but I have learned that if you just set your mind to doing something, you can do it.”

The mother of a 13-month-old said she doesn’t know what she would do if she had not found Alley’s House. “If I wasn’t here, I would still be out of school with nothing. No diploma, no GED. But now I am able to get a better job which will allow me to give my son the things he needs.”

Suzanna also takes advantage of counseling services available, thanks to Heather Lowrey M.S. Licensed Professional Counselor – intern who donates her services to Alley’s House. “It is nice to know there is someone here I can talk to….just to vent and let everything out,” she said. “Before I came to Alley’s House, I used to keep everything to myself and then when I would get upset, my temper would get so bad.”

Suzanna said the counseling has helped her learn how to express her feelings and control her temper. “I feel better because, I have a place where I am able to express myself,” she said. “And it helps me control my emotions. It is like I lift a load off of my shoulders at my counselor’s office.”

Through the life skills workshop offered once a week, Suzanna said she has learned a variety of things from how to craft a resume to potty training her son. “Eric is ready to be potty trained just yet, but now I know what to do for the future,” she said. “When he is ready for potty training, I will already have a guide and not feel like I am going into it alone.”

Two days a week Suzanna takes advantage of the volunteer tutors at Alley’s House. As she is studying for her GED, she admits that she struggles in math.

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 Suzanna works to balance paying attention to Eric while she works on a GED math chapter at Alley’s House. Suzanna said she dropped out of high school, mainly because childcare was an issue.

“It’s hard to learn and you have to remember everything. When I was in regular school, they would go too fast for me,” she said. “For me, I have to go step-by-step and with the tutors, it really helps me because they can explain it to help me understand it better.”

But Suzanna said that Alley’s House is more to her than just available opportunities. She said she likes knowing that when she comes to Alley’s House there is always someone pushing her to achieve her goals. “[The case managers] help me focus on school and understand that I am also worried about taking care of my kid,” she said. “They made me realize that just because you have a kid doesn’t mean you can’t finish school.”

Suzanna hopes to take her GED exam in March, afterward she plans to attend cosmetology school at ITS Academy of Beauty. In September, Alley’s House assistant case managers arranged for Suzanna to tour the school and attend an orientation. She said she really likes how Alley’s House founder, Allison, and the assistant case managers help her stay focused on her goals too.

“My family pushes me to do stuff, but it isn’t like here,” she said. “Here at Alley’s House if I say I want to do stuff, they put it on my goal plan and they make sure I stick with it and make sure I am on task.”

And while she is aware of the opportunity, the assistance and the encouragement placed in front of her, Suzanna knows that in the end—accomplishing her goals and being successful is completely up to her. “Yes, they do help you in so many ways, like [Alley’s House] helps you finish school,” she said, “but only if you want it. You have to want it. You can’t let your kid be the reason you don’t go to school, because that is not a good enough reason.”

Meet Yesenya, Alley’s House 2011 Mother of the Year

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Alley’s House 2011 Mother of the Year, Yesenya, is pictured with members of Alpha Omicron Sigma alumnae chapter. The sorority alumnae chapter donated the gift basket for Alley’s House 2011 Mother of the Year.

When Yesenya  heard her name announced as Alley’s House Mother of the Year, she was shocked that she received the honor. Yesenya, the proud mother of two year old, Ilene, has been a client at Alley’s House for two years.

She learned about Alley’s House while taking parenting classes. Her counselor came to her house, because she was having problems at school. The counselor suggested that she try Alley’s House to help her prepare for her GED along with the other great life skills classes that Yesenya could grow from.

Yesenya took her advice and called Alley’s House.  Two years later and she is ready to take her GED and go on from Alley’s House into life. She will be taking the exam on January 23. Although she admits to being nervous about taking the GED exam, she is also excited about all of the opportunities that are available by having a GED.

Alley’s House has helped her with other skills, besides just preparing for the GED. She has learned many different life skills and constructive parenting methods. One of the classes that has helped her prepare for the next step in life is the job interviewing.

“They taught me interview etiquette, what to wear, what questions to ask, how to prepare, and everything that goes along with interviewing,” she said. Currently she is working as a waitress at a local restaurant for now to pay her bills, but she has other plans for a career for herself in the future.

Yesenya is planning to college for surgical development and see where to go from there. She would like to attend Concord University upon receiving her GED. Her daughter is a big source of motivation for her to be successful in life.

“I want to give my daughter the best life I can, the life I didn’t have,” she stated. Alley’s House not only gave her the skills necessary to be successful, it also gave her the motivation to do more with her life. Yesenya said that without Alley’s House, “I would probably be at home, asleep not doing anything with my life.”

Right now she is living with her mom and is thankful that her mom helps watch Ilene while Yesenya is at school and provides her help when she needs it. She is excited to spend time with her family this Christmas.

Meet Kaylee, Alley’s House 2011 Client

Kaylee is an eighteen year old mom from Balch Springs, TX. If you are unfamiliar with that town it is located just outside of Mesquite. She is the busy mother of an adorable two-year old, Alexis.

Kaylee’s mother is the one who suggested Alley’s House to Kaylee. Kaylee was frustrated that she had not obtained her high school diploma or GED so she was searching for different GED programs on the internet. Kaylee dropped out of high school in tenth grade after she became a mother. She found it too difficult to focus on her daughter and school at the same time, “it was too much; going to school and taking care of her at the same time. Plus I didn’t have a way to get [Alexis] to daycare.”

As Kaylee was attempting to find a job after dropping out of she realized just how important education is in the workforce. “Everywhere I looked for a job required a GED. I wanted to work in a daycare but I couldn’t because I didn’t have a GED.”

After Kaylee contacted Alley’s House and attended the orientation she decided this was the right program for her. She really liked that fact that she could bring her daughter with her to Alley’s House, they had tutors for the GED, and she could learn how to be a better mother through the Alley’s House program.

Although she knew immediately that she would like to be a part of Alley’s House, she had to wait about 3-4 months before she was able to join the program. She soon realized it was well worth the wait. Since joining, tutors and interns like Russell and Simone have helped her advance her math skills enough to be prepared to take the GED in December.

“When Russell works with me one-on-one he explains it in a better way than the book would say,” so that she can better understand the concepts. Alley’s House has helped her get Alexis’ birth certificate as well as learn how to be a better parent through constant teachings, encouragement from staff, and parenting workshops.

“They taught me how to be a better parent to her” with tips like how and when to put Alexis in time out, alternative discipline methods than spankings, and tips on tips on potty training.

Kaylee has been so happy with her experience at Alley’s House she recommends it to other teen moms she knows who are struggling. Currently Kaylee works at Cracker Barrel as a hostess, but she has many more dreams for her life. Her number one goal in life is to be a registered nurse. Kaylee likes helping people and interacting with people constantly, so she thinks that a nursing career would allow her to do that. She is planning on attending Eastman Community College.

Kaylee also enjoys doing hair and she likes the flexibility of cosmetology. Kaylee is thinking that she would like to go into cosmetology as a short term career before she begins nursing school in order to provide more for her and Alexis while she is in school.

Wherever her life takes her, she is preparing to make a better life for herself, Alexis, and others.

Meet Janette, Alley’s House 2011 Client

This Halloween while most teens her age are getting their costume together for Halloween parties with their friends, Janette is shopping for Halloween costumes for her daughter.

Eighteen-year-old Janette was 15 when she became pregnant with her beautiful daughter Ruby. Her mom took her out of school three months into her freshman year of high school. After dropping out of school, she went to live with her boyfriend at the time, Ruby’s father.

Two years later she was referred to Alley’s House through Family Outreach Services and began attending in June of 2010.

Janette has taken advantage of many services that Alley’s House offers, such as computer skills, life skills classes, and parenting workshops. She said that her favorite aspect of Alley’s House is the different workshops that are available for her.

“[The workshops] help me to know when things fail, or when the baby is sick you know what to do,” she said. After completing the workshops you can see “this is the way I was doing it, and this is a better way you to do it”. The Love and Logic series, planning relationships for the future and financial planning are just a few of her favorite workshops.

Right now Janette is continuing to work on her GED; she hopes to take the test either in December or January. Tutors have been very helpful to Janette, especially for the math portion. Although there are not always tutors that are available to come in on the days that she is there, Janette really treasures the days that there are tutors there to help her.

Janette has many dreams for herself that she hopes to accomplish one day. While she hasn’t decided what type of career she wishes to pursue nursing, pediatrics, a pharmacy, and culinary arts are on the list.

I “want to work with kids,” she said, “I have to figure out how I want to accomplish all of these things.”

For now she is focusing on passing her GED, getting a job, pursuing an education and providing a stable life for she and her daughter. She does not want to rely on family members for support forever. Janette plans on attending a community college in Dallas after she receives her GED. Janette realizes that the struggles are worthwhile, and  says that Alley’s House has helped her grow immensely.

“Sometimes you have to live a hard life in order to get the better things later on,” she said. “I’ve learned a lot from what I did not know, to be a better mom… think better and make better decisions than I was making.”

Because of all her hard work and perseverance Janette can dress her daughter in her ladybug costume for Halloween today and know that she is doing all she can to make a better life for both of them.

Meet Guadalupe, Recipient of the 2010 Erin Tierney Kramp Encouragement Award

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Guadalupe, seen here with her two children, will be attending Brookhaven Community College this Fall as a full-time student thanks to the Erin Tierney Kramp scholarship.

Last week, Alley’s House teen mother, Guadalupe, received a $1,000 scholarship as part of the “Encouragement Award” from the Erin Tierney Kramp scholarship committee. This is a tremendous benefit as Guadalupe prepares for her first semester at Brookhaven Community College. Due to this scholarship, she can enroll as a full-time student!

Guadalupe, who received her GED in October, has a 3-year-old daughter and a 2-year-old son.

After receiving her GED, Guadalupe continued attending workshops and classes at Alley’s House to continue her education. In December, Guadalupe graduated from Alley’s House, but continues striving to meet her goals. In February, Guadalupe’s case manager, Colleen, took Guadalupe to Brookhaven to take a tour of the college so she could get a feel of the college and campus.

Guadalupe will begin attending classes in the Fall starting with her basic education classes. She thinks she wants to possibly work toward earning a degree in nursing.

Guadalupe is a great example of how Alley’s House works with teen mothers by empowering them to continue their education and encouraging them to achieve their goals.

Meet Asha and Jamesia, Alley’s House 2010 GED Graduates

This month two Alley’s House teen mothers received their GED. Asha and Jamesia took the GED at the end of February and was notified that they passed in early March.

Jamesia, who started studying for the test at the end of October said the test wasn’t as difficult as she had expected. She said she even had difficulty sleeping the night before.

“I thought it was going to be a lot harder than it was because, I guess the pre-tests are way harder than the actual test,” Jamesia said.

As part of the tutoring program, girls studying for their GED exam have to take pre-tests for each chapter. These pre-tests help their case worker determine whether they are ready to take the real GED.

Asha said she was nervous at first about taking the GED exam, but she felt good by the time the test got in front of her.

“I was nervous. I studied so I knew I was going to pass,” Asha said. “I just was not going to fail that test!”

While the girls are celebrating their success, they are continuing to focus on their future. Asha has plans to attend mortuary school so that she can become a funeral director. Several months ago Asha’s mother passed away, so she said she knows how important it is to make families of the deceased feel at ease during such a difficult time.

“Families come [to the funeral home] and they want you to comfort them and know that they can trust their loved one with you. It is important that they can be comfortable with you,” Asha said. “Like I wanted my momma to be taken care of, I want to do that for other families.”

Asha hopes to begin her courses in August. Currently, she is working toward the application process and applying for grants to help her pay for her classes. Jamesia is applying to Mountain View College where she plans to take her basic classes. She hopes to transfer and work toward a degree in nursing.

Both girls said that the tutoring services they received through Alley’s House helped them become more confident about taking the test. “I really don’t know what I would have done without the help of Alley’s House,” Asha said. “If I hadn’t had the tutoring, I am not sure if I would have passed the test.”

Alley’s House continues to work with young women like Asha and Jamesia in encouraging and supporting them towards their education. Alley’s House tutoring provides options for clients who are either trying to finish high school in a traditional classroom or who are studying to receive their GED diploma.

Meet Brenda, Alley’s House 2010 Mother of the Year

When she heard her name called, tears crowded her eyes. Nineteen-year-old Brenda  couldn’t believe she had just been named this year’s Alley’s House Mother of the Year.

“I really didn’t think I was going to win,” Brenda said. “It has been a while since I have received any type of award.”

Brenda enrolled in Alley’s House in November 2009, and she has been focused on working toward completing her high school education. Case manager, Colleen, said she wasn’t surprised that Brenda received the honor. “She is a good mom, takes care of her son single-handedly, and also supports her family financially,” said Colleen.

Even though Brenda works for a temp agency at least 40 hours a week, she still finds time to study for her GED and take care of her three-year-old son Jose Luis.

“She is determined to make a better life for herself and her son,” said Colleen. Brenda agrees that she is determined, and while she is proud of her accomplishments, she said it isn’t always easy balancing her goals with her life.

“I think I have accomplished a lot with everything I am going through,” she said, “and it has been pretty hard for me to go back to school and integrate myself back into the learning process, but I know I can do this.”

In addition to taking care of her son, Brenda also financially supports her mother and younger brother after they moved here to Dallas to help her. “I feel responsible for them since brought them up to live with me from Houston,” Brenda said. “My mom had to go through a lot to come back and live with me and she has been a lot of help to me. I feel it is time to pay her back. I know it is my responsibility as a daughter and a mom, and I am the only one that is going to be able to help them out right now.”

Brenda thinks she will be ready to take her GED by August. She plans to attend Mountain View Community College working toward her basic courses while she decides what career she would like to pursue from there. Brenda is interested in looking into pursuing law, but is also considering fashion design. “ I love clothes. One of my dreams is to make a line of clothes for people who don’t have enough money to buy expensive clothes,” she said. “I want to create something that is well-made, but affordable.”

Meet Ellie, Carly, and Kayla, Chad Willis Scholarship Recipients

Ellie, Carly, and Kayla received the Chad Willis Scholarship fund allowing them to take their education to the next level.

Nineteen-year-old, Ellie has a 3-year-old daughter. Ellis joined Alley’s House in the summer of 2008. After six months she completed her GED and secured a full-time job. Currently, she is a full-time student at El Centro College and plans to attend the University of Texas. Ellie’s career goal is to become a speech pathologist.

Carly, 21, is a single mother to a son in the first grade. Carly majors in social work at Texas Woman’s University. She volunteers her time to a group that supports parenting students. Carly plans to build a career around helping young families reach independence.

Kayla is an 18-year-old single mother of a one-year old daughter. Kayla relocated to Texas from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and graduated from James Madison High School in May. The Chad Willis Scholarship Fund and financial aid will enable Kayla to attend El Centro Community College where she plans to major in Criminal Justice. Kayla wants to build a career in the field of forensic science.

Alley’s House’s goal is to help teen moms take control of their lives and make good decisions that will positively affect their lives, and their children. The Chad Willis Scholarship Fund is one of the many ways Alley’s House works to achieve this goal.

Everyone at Alley’s House extends a special thank you to Dallas entrepreneur, philanthropist, and Alley’s House advisory council member, Chad Willis. Chad established the scholarship fund that includes a four-year college scholarship, books, and a childcare stipend. Two other awards include stipends for education expenses.

Meet Loida, Alley’s House 2009 Mother of the Year

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My name is Loida, and I want to tell you why Alley’s House has changed my life.

I dropped out of high school in my freshman year and became pregnant soon after. My mom kicked me out of our apartment, so I moved in with my boyfriend. We got married when I turned 16. Our son Jacob was born two months premature.

After struggling with early health issues, Jacob is now a healthy two-year old. Nine months ago I gave birth to our second son Fidel. I saw Alley’s House in a news story on TV. The story was about how Alley’s House has programs for teen moms like me to help finish school and be mentored. So I looked it up online and called. I’ve been coming to Alley’s House for five months now, and it’s so much more than I expected. Several times a week I pack up my boys and we take the 3-hour train ride to Alley’s House from Fort Worth where we live. I come all the way from Fort Worth because Alley’s House inspires me to believe in myself, and to create a better life for my kids.

Before Alley’s House I wasn’t going anywhere. I was just another teen mother statistic. Now I have hopes and dreams. I want to be a nurse and work with premature babies.

I want to be there for mothers going through what I went through with my premature son. Your support of Alley’s House supports my ability to achieve my dream and the dreams of other teen mothers.

Meet Guadalupe, Alley’s House 2009 Graduate

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Guadalupe is one of three Alley’s House teen moms who received her GED this month. “I am really proud of myself because I didn’t know for sure if I would be able to pass [the GED] for the first time,” Guadalupe said.

When she arrived at the testing center, she began talking to others who were trying to pass their GED for the second or third time. Guadalupe said this made her really nervous.

Guadalupe moved with her family to Texas when she was 10 years old. When she arrived in the United States, she didn’t know much English. While she now can speak English, she still has some difficulties with the language when it comes to reading and writing.

“I was nervous because there were these other people taking the test for the second time, and they spoke better English than me,” she said. “I speak English ok, but it is hard. Many times I need a dictionary to look up words I don’t understand, but for the test I could not use one.”

The Alley’s House GED tutoring program, helped Guadalupe overcome her obstacles with reading and writing.

Guadalupe is still attending workshops and classes at Alley’s House to continue her education. Currently, she is enrolled in the Microsoft training classes to help her improve her computer skills.

The mother of two is attending a workshop for career planning this week to help guide her toward her future. “The workshop will help me get an idea what I want to do,” she said. “I think I would like to work with little babies one day or maybe be a nurse.”

Guadalupe has a 3-year-old daughter and a 2-year-old son. She has been working with Alley’s House for a year.

Meet Daniela, Alley’s House 2008 Mother of the Year

danielaDaniela  is an 18 year old single mother of a 1 year old son. She has been at Alley’s House since August 2007. After finding the strength to leave an abusive relationship, she was able to find a steady job and focus on her GED. Her courage and perseverance as described in her Mother of the Year essay led to her earning the title of Alley’s House Mother of the Year.