Graduate Testimony at Solution of Hope Banquet – October 2022

Hi, my name is Whitney and I am a 2020 graduate of Mom’s House and I am excited to share my story and journey with you all. I first heard of Mom’s House back in 2015 when my nephew’s mom was going back to school for a certificate in health care. My mom had read an article in the local newspaper about Mom’s House and called to inquire about the program. We didn’t know much about Mom’s House at the time but we knew it helped give single moms with children the opportunity to attend school while providing them with free child care. The next day my nephew and his mom went to Mom’s House, filled out an application, and had an interview, and were enrolled.

A couple years later in November 2017 I found out I was expecting my first child! I had recently applied to Binghamton University’s highly selective and competitive BAT program for nursing earlier that month. In January of 2018 I received my acceptance letter to start that May, three months before my due date.  It was a 12 month accelerated intense program that would allow me to earn my bachelors degree in just one year beginning in May 2018 and ending in May 2019. Upon the recommendation of BU and after much debate and consideration, I deferred my enrollment one year with the agreement that my seat would be saved in the nursing program for the following year in 2019.

On a beautiful Tuesday evening in August of 2018 we welcomed a healthy 6lb 14oz baby boy named Ryder! That first Sunday after Ryder’s birth, Ryder had some health complications and we spent his second week of life at Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital recovering. In that moment I was thankful for making the decision to defer the nursing program so I could solely focus on my precious newborn and getting him healthy again!

That following year in May of 2019 I was finally able to start my journey in the nursing program at BU. It was always my dream to earn my RN degree and work as an RN but I knew I couldn’t do it alone, especially while caring for a now 9 month old baby! After many concerns and moments of panic of trying to figure out how I could be successful in this program, reach my goal and still be a good mom, Mom’s House came to mind! I immediately reached out to them in the spring before school started.  I had a meeting to apply and see if Mom’s House would be a fit for my son Ryder and I. We were then enrolled for the fall semester, starting in September.

Ryder started off in the lamb room with Miss Nancy, who he grew very fond of early on as well as his little buddy Jayden! Ryder and Jayden were always side by side and playing together! One of the most reassuring things about leaving Ryder at Mom’s House while I attended school was knowing that he was happy and loved going there. As the other mom’s arrived to drop of their kids they also would acknowledge and interact with the other kids in the classroom and it was so reassuring as a mom to know that Ryder was well taken care of and cared for not only by Mom’s House staff but by the other mom’s enrolled too! Our experience in the lamb room was that they provided him with meals which included breakfast and lunch and even a snack to end the day. I wasn’t just a meal to Ryder or myself, it was much more. They worked with all the kids to use utensils and develop proper eating habits, working towards feeding themselves. They provided key fundamentals and crucial skills, important to development and growth. They also evaluated and individually worked in all areas of each child to strengthen their overall growth.

Additionally, they provided diapers, clothes and even formula if needed, gave out gas cards and grocery cards, sent us home with extra food left over on Fridays, books to take home and read, donuts and loaves of bread, winter jackets and snow suits, and so much more! They truly took amazing care of the mom’s and our kids! I felt as if they loved Ryder and I as their own! In fact, most days he didn’t want to leave when I came to pick him up! It was amazing to watch how accustomed to the other children, moms and staff Ryder had felt!

One of my favorite memories of Mom’s House was Ryder’s daily hugs and warm welcome from Mrs. Kristine each morning! Ryder formed a special bond with her and would always greet her with a warm gentle hug that would make you melt! When people talk of Mom’s House some may think of it as a daycare but it was and is so much more than that! I love sharing our stories and experiences of Mom’s House with others! The once uncertainty of leaving my baby boy behind so I could attend classes and clinicals quickly turned to ease and helped give me comfort knowing I was doing the right thing for Ryder and gave me the determination to keep pushing through school to reach my end goal!

Another great memory of Mom’s House was the monthly workshops. They provided several key workshops throughout the year that focused on different aspects of life. For example healthy foods and healthy eating habits; time management and financial stability, something crucial to all of our futures and something as simple as starting a savings plan; resources that are available out in the community such as Life Choices and Mothers and Babies Perinatal Network, that could help any of us moms apply for discounted diapers, other essential needs; establishing health insurance and find providers; setting up interviews and writing a resume. Many of these resources I didn’t know ever existed but now in turn use them today in my career for my patients, helping educate and provide them with several resources that are available in our community!

2020 was an extremely challenging year as we know with the start of Covid 19 pandemic. There were several trials and tribulations that came with the shutdown in March including Mom’s House closing and school becoming completely remote. Suddenly child care became a challenge with my already intense school schedule. Adjustment was an understatement and a whole new lifestyle but with the help of Mom’s House I quickly realized the importance of discipline and routine. While they couldn’t offer child care due to Covid they still offered their unconditional support and checked in to offer words or encouragement and support and in whatever ways Covid would allow and that meant a lot! It was a constant reminder I needed to keep my head down and keep pushing through to finish school strong. I wasn’t going to let the Covid pandemic ruin my dream!

Three months later in May of 2020 I proudly graduated from BU’s accelerated nursing program after completing one very intense year! One of my biggest accomplishments during the school year bedsides graduating was also winning a nursing award. I was honored to have been chosen as the 2020 graduate recipient of the Martha Harnick Bress ’69 Nursing Award for clinical excellence in the Baccalaureate program!!! An accomplishment that has meant more to me than you know! I have never worked so hard in my life to reach a goal as great as this one! I am now working in Lourdes Hospital labor and deliver and I have finally fulfilled my dream of becoming a nurse and share my passion for the health field. Raising a family and going to school full-time is hard work!!! All of my major accomplishments would not have been possible without the unconditional love and support from my friends, family and Mom’s House, so a sincere thank you for supporting me along the way and always providing words of encouragement and resources during school! I cannot tell you how much that meant to me and truly contributed to my success! Ryder and I are so blessed to have been a part of this amazing organization! One year may seem like a short time to some but just in that one short year I learned and grew so much it made a tremendous difference and huge impact on my life forever.

A big contribution to my success in school was the use of the Cortese study room at Mom’s House. We had access to a quiet space that had computers and printers available for use. I was able to prepare for exams, study and write papers all while Ryder was enjoying his time playing with his little friends in the Lamb room! This allowed for me to stay focused during high stress moments and assignments for nursing school while studying for exams. I always had the support of Mom’s House for exams as they somehow always managed to calm my nerves and ease my test anxiety. A bittersweet moment of them sharing excitement and celebrating with me for that great exam grade!

Although our time at Mom’s House was cut shorter than we’d like due to Covid, this organization will forever have a lasting impression on my family and I. I wish we had more time at Mom’s House but for the time we did have we are forever grateful and truly blessed! I know I keep repeating how much Mom’s House meant to me and their impact, but I love sharing with others the importance of organizations like Mom’s House to help better serve our community and society by providing a better lifestyle and stability to others and knowing that there are resources and help available! No dream is ever too small and it’s never too late to start!

Mom’s House exceeded my expectations more than I could have ever imagined and I’m excited for other moms and dads to have this amazing opportunity to open their eyes to the wonderful ways Mom’s House truly supported me and my family and gave me hope for our future! The staff is nothing short of incredible. They have gone above and beyond with their support and encouragement. I will forever hold Mom’s House with a special place in my heart and continue to give back every year as I can just as they gave to me. They forever touched our lives. You made a difference and impact on Ryder and my life. We are truly blessed. It is with great pleasure that I can say I was once a mom that walked into Mom’s House with a dream and walked out an RN with so much thankfulness and gratitude!!!

Thank you!!!