Lauren thought she was set. Having just given birth to her son, her life was stable. She could not have foreseen how challenging the next few years of her life would be for her and her son.
Her marriage fell apart unexpectedly and she found herself without support from the father of her son. She had no income left with an infant only 9 days old. Her ex-husband closed their credit cards without notifying her at all, leading to her having the emotionally draining experience of finding out she had no way to pay for her infant’s formula.
“I would have never expected to be in the situation that I was left in,” Lauren says. “I thought I would never have needed to ask for help since I was a Captain’s wife in the U.S. Air Force.”
Uncertain how she would navigate these difficult times as a single parent of a new-born, Lauren relied on her parents for guidance and assistance. Without them, she would “probably be under a bridge.”
Shortly after this, she was connected to several programs funded by United Way with partners like Catholic Charities of San Antonio, the DePelchin Children’s Center and others.
“I have participated in United Way programs since my son was about three to four months old,” Lauren said. “The programs helped me and my son with different activities including parent skills, stress with a newborn to toddler, sensory games, listening skills, time out and different ways to interact with my son.”
The support that Lauren received was beneficial not just for her son but for her as an individual. It helped her be more confident in her parenting skills and learn good habits like how to soothe herself in addition to her son. Most of all, it showed her that she was not alone on this new life path. “Without the help of United Way, I would have been lost,” Lauren says. “I had absolutely nothing. United Way was a blessing to my son and I.”
Lauren’s journey as a new, single parent was made more manageable with the help of United Way’s Healthy Outcomes through Prevent and Early Support (HOPES) program and the ReadyKidSA coalition.
HOPES is a flexible community grant that funds a variety of innovative initiatives to support families with children ages zero to five. HOPES services typically include behavioral health interventions, mental health services, parent support groups, early literacy promotion and parent education. The ReadyKidSA is a coalition of organizations across Bexar County that builds on successful child and family programs in San Antonio. Through HOPES and ReadyKidSA, United Way helps parents get the resources they need to establish strong foundations for their families.
“For those who are thinking about donating to United Way, please know that whatever you contribute will help a lot of individuals,” Lauren said. “You never know what the future holds for any of us. United Way was our guardian angel and we will always be forever grateful to them.”