A visit by a caseworker to her hospital room after she had given birth led teen mom, Anna Hammernik, in the right direction. Eighteen years ago she gave birth to her daughter, Olivia, at a hospital in Milwaukee. The caseworker enrolled her in Rosalie Manor Community and Family Service’s (RMCFS) Mother Care program which began in 1908, and has evolved into today’s Positive Parenting Program (PPP). “I had a wonderful caseworker who came out to my house, and then I participated in some of the events at the Burleigh building (Rosalie Manor’s former residential building for single teen moms). My caseworker would help me find resources and sometimes bring things like diapers or formula. She also answered questions I had about parenting. We’d also just talk.” Those services are still provided today through PPP by our caseworkers who are now called Family Care Coordinators.
RMCFS and Anna’s family helped her decide what she was going to do next for herself and Olivia. “I knew that an hourly job at a fast food restaurant was not going to allow me to provide for my daughter. In addition, I wanted my daughter to see me as a strong, successful woman. I needed to be a good role model. I didn’t think I could do that without an education.” Anna went to school at Alverno College because of its focus on empowering women and it was also near her home. She earned two degrees there. In addition to RMCFSs services, she said her family also supported her every step of the way. “I might be her (Olivia’s) mom, but my whole family raised her. I don’t know how far I would have gotten without them.” She said Olivia has made sacrifices for her, too. “There’s definitely less play time when you have papers to write or presentations to prepare.” Besides her degrees from Alverno, Anna also earned an MS in Cultural Foundations in Education from UW-Milwaukee in 2006.
Many of the moms in the PPP program report they find parenting rewarding, including Anna. She said her strongest pieces of advice to Olivia aren’t really in words, but through her actions. Anna has 15 years of experience in the education field including classroom teaching and leadership experience. She has also lived and worked in Ethiopia, Prague in the Czech Republic and Jefferson Parish, Louisiana. Says Anna,” I want her (Olivia) to travel and see the world. I want her to experience everything that life has to offer and never settle. I want her to choose a life that is absolutely amazing!” Olivia is now on a path to success attending college and working part-time.
What advice would Anna give teen moms in the PPP program? “Go to school. Study. Get good grades. Even if you don’t choose college, it won’t be because you can’t. Don’t. Give. Up.”
A couple of years ago, Anna contacted RMCFS regarding volunteer opportunities with the agency. A short time later, she was contacted and asked if she’d like to join the Board which she did in February, 2012. She also works full-time as the Campus Administrator for an alternative school. Says Anna, “I wanted other teen moms to know that they could still go to school, still be successful and still make a great life because I had done it myself. I wanted them to know that being a teen mom didn’t mean that your own dreams are cut short.”
Anna’s story illustrates how RMCFS has carried out its mission: “Strengthening Milwaukee families by empowering parents to be nurturing and by guiding youth toward positive futures.”
If you would like to donate to support the Positive Parenting Program, please visit our website: www.rosaliemanor.org., or e-mail Diane Gillan at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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