Rachel Truant’s voice turns serious as she describes the teens she meets in her role as the Director of Resource Development at the Massey Centre and how COVID-19 is affecting them.
“The virus has changed nearly everything in their lives and in the ways we are supporting them,” she says.
The Massey Centre in Toronto receives support from Mission & Service and helps pregnant and parenting adolescents, the majority of whom faced major challenges long before pregnancy.
“Some have been through foster care, have lived in homeless shelters, are victims of domestic violence, sex trafficking...the list goes on. Usually the pregnancy is another thing that has happened to them in a lifetime of tragic things.”
COVID-19 heaps on new challenges. To ensure everyone’s safety, the Massey Centre has moved eight young women from the communal supportive residence to private, semi-independent living apartments on the property. Normally, these apartments are reserved for women who have delivered their babies and have obtained life skills through the program. The move has not only created a backlog of young women who want to move in but also means some have moved into independent living before they are ready.
“Every day, we have life skills training courses like how to cook and clean, how to get an apartment, etc. Now, the moms and their babies are living in independent apartments and don’t always have the life skills yet to be living there,” Truant says, adding that many of the moms are requesting mental health support. “Some are terrified to go to prenatal appointments. Many have lost access to support programs because community resources like counselling services they depended on are shut down. Child support cases can’t proceed, so that adds stress. The moms are losing what helps them build a successful life. Plus some don’t have phones or computers, so they feel especially cut off.”
Massey Centre staff are working hard to not only keep the women and their babies physically safe but also to relieve emotional strain. Helping young women finish their education is a key part of the Centre’s mission. A generous donor has just given them enough computers for everyone, and online courses are in the works to help teach life skills, complete education, and keep the women connected. A virtual group cooking class is in the works.
“We are figuring out what the next steps are. I admit that I’m anxious to come to work, but we can’t shut down. Without us, these women would be homeless with their babies. We won’t let that happen,” says Truant.
Your gifts through Mission & Service mean that young moms and their babies continue to be cared for in these challenging times through organizations like the Massey Centre. Thank you!
Find out more about the Massey Centre.