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“Hope Clinic has been my biggest support system during this rough patch in my life, and I pray that I am able to continue to grow this relationship with them.” – Angel, a current Hope Clinic client

My name is Angel. I’m currently 21 years old, almost 22, and 36 weeks pregnant. I grew up with a simple life in Springfield, MA. I lived with my parents and my father’s parents. I was an only child for quite a while. I didn’t have many friends growing up- I was more of a teacher’s pet. While living up there I went through a few deaths in my family. I had two of my brothers be born stillborn and my grandfather also passed away. Sadly, all three of these in the same year. But things started to look up after those tragedies.

When I was 10 years old, my family moved to Nashville, TN. Here I was able to renew myself. I found Christianity when I moved down here. It was the first time I had been exposed to church. My church helped me grow as a person in ways I never expected it to. They have been one of my constant support systems since I moved down here all those years ago. They helped me be able to open up to others and make friends. Some of those friendships, I still hold dear to me to this day.

Over the years, my mother managed to have two healthy pregnancies. The first was my brother, Zachary, who was born in 2008. He grew up an amazing little brother. He has since been diagnosed with autism and epilepsy, but he is still the sweetest boy you’ll meet. Next came my sister, Isabella, who was born in 2010. At first Zachary didn’t like her, but eventually we all grew into one big happy family.

My life got hauled into reality when I turned 16. My family was in need and so I started working to be able to help out. Over the course of 3 years I worked my way up the ranks at Sonic Drive-In. I was always constantly working a million hours to make up what my family needed. I ended up being an assistant general manager before things went sour between me and the higher ups. From there I went on to work at Vanderbilt University with campus dining and also at Au Bon Pain consecutively. My mindset to have to work 24/7 had been influenced by others around me. At the time I was 20 years old working back to back jobs to provide for my family who had multiple incomes coming into the house.

Once Vanderbilt University let out for the summer I found a new job in downtown Nashville. I started working at Johnny Cash Kitchen and Saloon. While at this job I found out I was pregnant. As soon as I found out, a bunch of medical issues began to appear. I started having really bad asthma, fainting at work, constantly getting sick at work, etc. I had to stop working my ridiculous 24/7 work schedule. My baby was telling me it’s time to slow down. I ended up in the hospital a few times and ultimately had to quit that job.

After a while, while in my second trimester, my symptoms started to reduce themselves. One of my old managers offered me a job at Opry Mills as a prep person. I jumped on the opportunity. It was going well until recently. All of a sudden my world was turned upside down. We had gotten so behind on rent that we lost our house. My mother decided to separate from my father when this happened.

Since then me, my mom, and the kids have been living in a hotel. I stopped working due to the fact that we were constantly switching hotels and we didn’t have a vehicle just the public buses. Me and my mom have been trying our hardest to work through this rough time. Our church and family friends have been helping out immensely since then. Me and my mom have been sharing the responsibilities of bringing the kids to school, taking care of the kids, and working on ways to find housing and money for food. We’ve been having to sell a lot of our stuff to be able to get by. We are going through a lot, but we know that it is worth it to be able to change for the better. Currently we are still living in a hotel working through all of these issues. We are constantly working with agencies and case workers to find housing and support.

Recently I had a lot of opinions being thrown at me and a lot of truths being revealed to me. Some told me to put my child up for adoption because of the situation I am in. Others made it clear to me that for years I had been financially abused. That the work ethic instilled in me had been used to benefit everyone except myself.  So, I decided to change who I was. I decided to find a support system that worked with me to create a better me.

I found Hope Clinic out of pure luck. I was going through a dark patch with my depression and desperately needed a stable support system. I started looking at different counseling options online. Hope Clinic stood out to me because not only did they offer counseling, but they also offered the Bridge Program for pregnant women and new mothers.

The first time I visited Hope Clinic, I was welcomed with open arms. It is such a warm environment there. Everyone is polite and open with you. They all ask how you are doing and make sure everything is okay. All of the workers, volunteers, and fellow participants constantly want to reassure you that they are there for you and that they want to help you succeed on your journey. They always make sure that you never feel like you are in this by yourself or that you are alone. Everyone is there to support you.

My first time there, Hope Clinic immediately got me set up with someone to do my intake. From there everything just came together. I was lost when I first went to Hope Clinic. I didn’t know who I really wanted to be or what I wanted to do with my life. I was afraid of spiraling out of control before my child even got here. Since I’ve been at Hope Clinic, I’ve been able to start to discover who I want to be and what kind of person I want to be.

I’ve been going to a variety of Bridge Program classes to broaden my knowledge of pregnancy and self care. Examples of some classes are therapeutic music, all about self care, living in your awesomeness (which is a career help class), breasting classes, etc. They prepare these classes with mothers or mother- to-be in mind. They want you to have the knowledge of how and why things happen, but also want to help you be able to deal with these things. They want you to feel prepared. They help you to focus not only on taking care of your body and health for your child’s sake, but also for your own sake. They make sure that you know that you matter, and that your physical and mental health matter just as much.

Through counseling, which is optional, they want to help you work through your current problems and/or past problems. The counselors are there not only for mothers, but for everyone. They work with you to make you feel like yourself again. They work with you so that you can find out who you want to be. Like I said, I was lost when I came to Hope Clinic. The little time I have been there I’ve learned so much about myself.

It all started when I went to one of my first classes. It was part of a series called Nuturing Parents. We had done a chapter on self care. I realized in that class that I had never really experienced constant self care. Sure, I had gone to a concert or event every once in a while, but I didn’t take even 2 minutes a day to focus on myself. Then and there I knew the first thing I needed to work on. I needed to figure out what I could do for myself to help myself grow as a person.

I went to counseling a few days later and we worked on a plan. I felt like I was in school again getting homework, but it really helps. In class, we had done a worksheet about things we love about ourselves. It was for us to realize some of our own potential. Based on that list me and my counselor came up with a plan to take time out of every day during the week and do an activity related to the worksheet. I love to draw so therefore every day I would draw something related to what I love about myself. Since art is something that helps to relax me being able to do that small task every day is a form of self care.

Another resource Hope Clinic offers are mentors. I feel like having a mentor is one of the most important things you can benefit from. They aren’t there to take over your life and tell you what to do. They are available to you to help guide and support you on your journey. They are not there to judge you in anyway. All they want to do is help you succeed. Everyone at Hope Clinic is like that though. Everyone you meet just wants to make sure that you are okay and that you are able to take advantage of the services offered to you. Everyone, from the employees and volunteers to the fellow participants, wants to help you grow and succeed in your journey of life. Hope Clinic has been my biggest support system during this rough patch in my life, and I pray that I am able to continue to grow this relationship with them.

Angel, a current Hope Clinic client, wrote this story to share how our services have offered her growth, encouragement, and hope.