Each day is a blessing for Christina Campbell. At 26, she had two children and one on the way, a loving husband and a stable job. Four months into her pregnancy, she woke up with excruciating chest and back pain. After four days with no relief, she went to the emergency room where doctors discovered she had blood clots in her lungs. This same condition killed her pregnant mother when Christina was just 18 months old.
“The doctor’s told me that I was lucky to be alive,” said Christina. “I sat in the hospital and cried and cried thinking about my mom and how thankful I was that I didn’t die like she did.”
Determine not to meet her mother’s fate, Christina followed doctors orders and cut back significantly from her full time job. She was forced to quit when her work hours couldn’t pay for daycare. Her husband picked up extra shifts and worked odd jobs but it was difficult to survive on his income alone.
Christina turned to The Treehouse, visiting once a week to watch the Earn-While-You-Learn videos. She uses what she learns in her video sessions to work on her parenting skills and to learn thoughtful methods for managing the stress and challenges of having a young family. “The videos work,” says Christina. “They’ve helped me understand how to discipline without yelling. Growing up my house was full of anger. I’ve found that just because that was the way my family was, I don’t have to be like that.”
In addition to the education she receives, Christina earns baby bucks to use in the thrift store for some of her children’s basic needs and to supplement her diaper and formula needs when the expense is too much to handle on her own. So far, she’s earned 240 diapers and has purchased clothes for her toddler and newborn in the thrift store.
“The past few months have been hard but The Treehouse lightens my load. Each day I can get up and play with Jocelyn and Payton. I’m so thankful.”
At 27, TaDonné Neal longed for the family she had growing up – a mom, dad and siblings. Her dream for a traditional family was shattered when she became pregnant and the father of the baby wasn’t interest in having more kids. He broke ties as soon as he found out about the baby.
“I like to prepare for things so this was a shock,” states TaDonné. Determined to provide a stable life for her baby even without support from the father, she worked hard and started saving a little bit from each paycheck, buying diapers and clothes.
Then her job had cutbacks and her schedule was slashed dramatically. “I was worried,” says TaDonné. “I was reading books that said I needed to budget for the baby and I’m like budget, with what? I have no money.”
Relief came when TaDonné was welcomed at The Treehouse with a bag full of baby necessities, clothes, wash clothes, swaddle blankets, bottles and diapers. At The Treehouse she also learned what her pregnant body was going through, how the baby was growing and the importance of skin-to-skin contact in the baby’s first months.
“I learned the baby had a heartbeat at 5 weeks old. It’s a child in there and I want to know what I’m doing. There’s so much you’ve got to do to be a good parent.”
When Christopher arrived, TaDonné preparations paid off. She had stocked diapers and clothing to last his first few months through participating in Treehouse programs.
TaDonné is now back in school, pursuing a degree at Friends University. Although Christopher doesn’t have the family that she envisioned for him, she knows she’s not alone in raising him. Her faith in God is strong. And she has a strong support group to walk alongside her – her mom, her siblings and her Treehouse family.
Throughout Melinda Tran’s childhood she wondered if she was worthy of love. She was just a small child when her father started disciplining her with a forceful hand. This frequent hitting did more damage to Melinda’s self-esteem then it did to her obedience. Her mother took Melinda and left her father when Melinda was seven.
At 18, Melinda was pregnant with her first child, Alejandro. Empty-handed and without an income, Melinda struggled to provide the baby with clean diapers. She needed help and didn’t know where to turn until a friend told her about The Treehouse, which turned out to be exactly what she needed.
At The Treehouse, Melinda received necessities like diapers and toys. She also watched video after video to learn how to be the mom she wanted to be – to discipline without force, when her child didn’t listen.
When her second son Fernando was born Melinda was relieved to know she could turn to The Treehouse for guidance, and a healthy dose of friendship. Melinda has set a personal goal to finish two Earn-While-You-Learn lessons each week. These videos reminder her that the boys are maturing normally and that some of the challenges they face as a family are simply milestones. She uses the techniques the videos suggest and have found they help her parent with more ease.
“I just want to be a happy mom for my boys,” Melinda said. “I want them to know they have a mom who loves them and cares for them always.”
At 17, Jennifer wanted to be a famous pastry chef. Little did she know, that same year, she would become a single mom.When she told the father she was pregnant, he “flipped” and left the state.”I was stressed,” Jennifer remembers. “I was worried about how I was going to be able to take care of this child on my own.”So Jennifer jumped online and started looking for parenting classes. That’s how she found The Treehouse.”I told them I was scared,” Jennifer says. “I was having a little boy, and I needed some parenting classes. I wanted to do everything I could to make sure this baby got a great start in life.”Not only did she learn how to comfort a crying baby, she learned about the importance of reading to her child and providing structure in his life.By the time Collin finally arrived, Jennifer couldn’t wait to show the staff at The Treehouse. “I had to show my extended family my new arrival.”
Jennifer no longer has lofty goals of wanting to be a chef, but she does want to go back to school. Mostly, she wants to be a great mom for Collin and her new little one that is soon to arrive.
Our beloved Mother Teresa said it best, “In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love.” We thank God for the opportunity to help serve mothers and children even in the smallest of ways.
The temperature outside was 7 degrees. At our doorsteps was a mother due in March that had no winter coat – just a hoodie to protect her from the cold. She had made numerous calls to different churches and agencies but kept coming up empty handed.
The easy thing for The Treehouse would have been to pass on the phone numbers to several thrift stores around town and then say, “Good luck in your quest for a coat”. Instead, we made a list of possible resources and got on the phone. Miraculously, the first place we called had a warm coat for $8. Former Treehouse Executive Director, Renee Scott, met the mother at the thrift store and the coat was a perfect fit – Renee’s beautiful scarf making the perfect accessory.
Now the mother could walk to class shielded from the cold Kansas air and filled with warm thoughts that someone else cared about her basic need.
Without a doubt we will see this mom in the future and she will be the one donating something else to The Treehouse. That is the gift of the Treehouse – give simply and be blessed.