“When I came to Rosalie Hall two months ago, I was scared of what the future would hold,” said 18 year old Victoria McKenley. “I was four months pregnant, but the staff of Rosalie Hall took away my fears and helped me make plans for my child’s future, as well as my own. At Rosalie Hall, I am able to continue my high school education and am also taking parenting courses, where I am learning about proper nutrition for my baby and myself as well as how to be a good parent.”
Rosalie Hall is a social service agency that provides residential services for unwed pregnant teenagers and an aftercare program for single women and their children, for two years after the baby is born. The residents live in groups to develop individual strengths, this, combined with extensive counseling and social support, helps young women to become productive members of their community. Child care classes and medical support ensure that the new born babies avoid many of the problems common among babies born to first time mothers.
“Many of the young women who pass through the doors of Rosalie Hall have no support from family or the father of the child.” said Dr. Steven Parker, D.S.W, Executive Director of Rosalie Hall. “We provide our single teenagers and women with warmth, understanding and emotional support throughout their pregnancy.”
The principle aim of Rosalie Hall is to help the young women appreciate their self worth and set more realistic goals for their future and that of their child. The center runs a High School Education program that enables the young women continue education during pregnancy. The credits gained from this education are then transferred to other education programs later, allowing the young women to continue developing their knowledge and their future.
“I was initially resentful about being at Rosalie Hall, when I first arrived at the age of sixteen” remembers Dawn Beider, now aged 27, “but through participating in their mentor program I came to see that there were other young women in my situation, and that was of great help to me as well as the support and counseling of the Rosalie Hall staff. I am happy to say that my daughter Jasmine is now 11 years old and I love being a Mother. I work in market research for a company in Rockland County, New York.”
Opening the eyes of young people to the realities of teenage pregnancy is one of the goals of the Mentors’ Group at Rosalie Hall. The Mentors’ Group, which is comprised of pregnant teens living in the residence and former residents now living in the community, allows young women to discuss their experiences as pregnant and parenting teens with young people in the community. The Mentors’ program grew out of school and community organization’s requests for presentations.