Can you imagine being 18 years old, pregnant, homeless and living in an abandoned house?
That’s where we begin Megan’s story.
Meet Megan – a 32-year-old single mother of three children. Her two daughters live with her at Beth Shalom, and her son lives with Megan’s mother. Two weeks after graduating from high school, Megan moved out of her mother’s home.
She became pregnant, but her boyfriend became abusive, so she left. During this time, she experienced homelessness and lived in an abandoned house. Megan returned to her mother’s home, and shortly thereafter, thinking they had worked things out, she reunited with her boyfriend. They had another child 12 months later, but then her boyfriend became abusive again, and Megan left with their children.
Megan and her children lived for a few years with a friend who eventually moved. It was then that Megan met her second boyfriend and had another daughter. Later Megan met a third man, and they lived together in a few homes. He was kind to Megan and her children. Unfortunately, he had drug issues and was sent to prison. Megan also made some bad decisions which led to her prosecution and imprisonment a few months later.
While she was waiting for her sentencing, one of her daughters was hospitalized in Philadelphia for nearly three weeks with swine flu and pneumonia. Megan stayed at the Ronald McDonald House until she was discharged and they returned to Lancaster. Megan prepared for her incarceration, making plans for her mother to care for her children.
Megan was sentenced to six months in prison. While in prison, she spent four months in the work release program working 40 hours a week at a local restaurant as a prep cook and sleeping in the prison at night.
When released from prison, she had nowhere to live, so she and her daughters moved to TLC (a program of Tabor) and were there for two months. With a desire to live more independently, Megan spoke to her parole officer. He spoke to Lenara, Beth Shalom’s Program Coordinator, and after meeting Megan, they both agreed Beth Shalom was ideal for Megan and her children, and they have lived in their Beth Shalom apartment since May.
When asked what her biggest obstacle has been, Megan responds, “coming back into the community, being a single mom, and asking for help. I never asked for anything, but if you don’t ask, no one knows what you’re going through.”
Lenara has been a tremendous help to Megan since she moved to Beth Shalom. She found day care for her daughters (which they love), meets with Megan weekly, and guides her during this transitional period in her life. Since their initial meeting, Lenara has seen the growth and positive changes Megan has made in a short period of time. Lenara says, “When I hear her say she’s not allowing someone to treat her in a certain way, I say, Bravo!”
With tears in her eyes, Megan shares her goals, i.e., “to have Jayden (her son) live with us, take care of my children, have enough money to pay my bills, and be able to provide for my kids. I want to be able to buy them ice cream or a treat when they ask, instead of saying, no, we can’t afford that right now.”
Looking to the future, Megan hopes that her children will go down a different path than she or their fathers have chosen, and have stability, careers, experience life.
To someone who may be experiencing some of the same issues she had, Megan says “Keep your head up. Don’t take anything for granted. Don’t give up on yourself. Be willing to humble yourself to ask for help. Listen more than you speak.”
To the supporters of Beth Shalom who make this program possible, Megan says once again through her tears, “Thank you! Thank you for giving me the opportunity to be a mom and my family to be together. I wish there were more people like you, and I don’t know where I would be without Tabor and the Beth Shalom program.”