Every mom needs a Grace's Table in their life!

Earlier this week in the midst of a meeting my phone started blowing up!

Text messages, emails, facebook messenger. Someone was using every avenue they had to get my attention.

It was one of the Mamas who has found belonging at Grace's Table. She said, “Something told me I needed to share this with you today".

And something tells me I should share it with you. It is your support that has made this possible, and it is your ongoing support that will make it possible for more teen mothers. 

I get asked why?
 
Why do I attend Grace’s Table?
 
Why have I stayed a part of this community for YEARS?
 
I always say food because it’s the frosting on the cake. It’s the simple answer. Like who doesn’t like the frosting? LOL but seriously, it is! Our food partners are great! I don’t remember a BAD meal in my 4 years of being a part of the Grace’s Table “originals”.
 
ANYWAYS, why do I attend Grace’s Table?
 
Because the support I have there I have NEVER had ANYWHERE. Not family. Not school. Not a relationship. Literally no where!
 
It’s the family I never had.
 
Families have bad times, and there has been bad times. I don’t agree and get upset, but it’s not because anything wrong was done. It’s because I didn’t want to hear it. Even though it was the truth or what was best.
 
I felt most connected to my Grace’s Table family when they helped lay my other half (my kids’ dad) to rest. Not because of the financial support, but the emotional supportThey came to his funeral. Even some of the other moms of Grace’s Table came to support me. They helped get my girls and I necklaces with his ashes in them. Just a lot of support during the hardest part of my life.
 
They were also there for me when I came into some legal trouble and they supported me in the way I needed at the time, and after they helped keep me out of that trouble.

This fall I completed my GED and will be the FIRST generation of my family to go to college!!! If Lisa and Jess, my mentor, didn’t push me to do that I probably still wouldn’t have it.
 
This community is EVERYTHING to me and what I named here is not even the second layer of my cake.
 
Every mom needs a Grace’s Table in their life!

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When we connect with a girl between the ages of 13-24 who is pregnant and/or parenting we meet her where she is at and we begin with the base layer of the cake. Or as in the story above, we start with frosting :) You put a little frosting down to stabilize the cake. (You're welcome for that baking tip.) Seriously though, we begin with meeting basic needs like meals, diapers, safe transportation, and we build from there. 

Pictured above are the 5 key areas where we meet young mothers on their journey from adolescence to motherhood.

There are a lot of ingredients in this recipe, and a lot of people who make it possible. People like you and me! Below are the some of the ways our moms and kiddos would describe our "cake".

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In the story above you heard this Mama mention that she is a "Grace's Table original".

Since she used the analogy of a cake, it seemed appropriate to use a birthday cake to describe a few of the things we do at Grace's Table.

December 8th is our birthday! 

It is the day we officially became an organization in 2014, but we are not just an organization. We are a family, and families take time to grow. Thank you for helping us grow!

We absolutely love these families and are so grateful to be able to share a story of impact like the one above. 

With Deepest Gratitude,

Lisa E. Anderson
Founding Director
Grace's Table

Be the One

Today I am asking you to Be the One. It will change the future of unborn children and their mothers. 

For a moment, I want you to focus on just one girl.

Angel is 15 years old. She has suffered unimaginable trauma and every day she finds herself lost in her thoughts longing for a way out, hoping to one day know what it feels like to be loved and belong.

Her frame is childlike with the exception of her protruding belly hiding under her sweatshirt.

Can you see her?

Today she learned two earth shattering truths: she is pregnant with twins; and her Granny kicked her out. What now?

Grace's Table offers pregnant and parenting girls between the ages of 13-24 a safe harbor, an anchor in the storm, for many like Angel, it's a literal life line.

We focus on five key areas with each girl: self-discovery, motherhood, education, career, and spiritual exploration.

Will you Be the One to say yes to Angel and her twins? 

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We are looking for 50 people to partner with us monthly. Your monthly gift of $83.33 ensures mothers like Angel receive quality care as they navigate adolescence and motherhood. Each mother will receive personalized care and case management, along with incredible life skills courses to help them grow both individually and as a mother. Will you be the one?

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This year 100% of the moms that were working on finishing high school completed their education. 50% are working with mentors to begin college in January. When you say you want to BE THE ONE, you are ensuring she has the resources she needs to focus on her education. Sometimes that means mental and emotional support, and other times it means physical support. Your gift of $1,500 ensures a girl like Angel can access professional counseling and ongoing care throughout the year. Your partnership means a brighter future for young families. Will you be the one?

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Grace's Table is a place of belonging before believing. You've heard us say that Tuesdays are for Teen Mamas and on those nights we are exploring the Bible. A young mother recently shared she likes Tuesday nights because she can stop in the middle of the study and ask questions. She is learning through reading the Bible, journaling, and activities that help her relate to the text. Will you ensure that Angel has the opportunity to understand that God is for her and her babies? Your partnership makes an eternal impact on everyone who sits at Grace's Table. Will you be the one?

You've read about a lot of support that Grace's Table can offer Angel and girls in our community who find themselves pregnant or parenting, but Angel needed something more.

Angel needs housing.

A place to let the dust settle, to stabilize, and where healing can begin. She needs shelter. Home.

Housing has always been one of our goals. If you would like to play an even bigger part in the vision of Grace's Table please reach out and let's connect to discuss what the future holds. It's pretty exciting!

Thank you for your generosity on this #GivingTuesday and every day!

Home Sweet Home

Last week was a humbling reminder of the challenges our community faces when it comes to housing and transitioning to independent living. It's not always sweet, but it is a little easier when you have someone in your corner.

Jenny is counting down the weeks until she turns 18. It's usually such a celebrated birthday, but this one is different. She's trying to figure out how to stay in school, provide for a child with special needs, work, and look for an apartment when nobody will consider her just yet because she isn't 18. She's racing against the clock.

18 is when she has to be out.

Out of her family's home and on her own.

She is scared.

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Caitlin connected with me through a local church. She is in an unsafe situation with her 8-month old son, and has nowhere to turn. Every call we make is met with the same answer, "We don't have space".

She looks to me for answers I don't have.

There is anger and there are tears. I am quiet and listen as she asks why nobody will help her.

She is weary.

Five years ago, Danae gave birth and shortly thereafter applied for housing. She has been couch surfing and still managed to graduate from high school. On top of that she has been dealing with the foster care system and fighting deep depression.

Last week she received the call...there is an apartment.

She says she will no longer have to worry about her physical safety or who is going through her things. This apartment means she is one step closer to reunification with her child.

She proudly tells me the local pantry helped her fill her cupboards, but she has no way to open the cans of food.

It doesn't seem like a big deal to purchase a can opener except she depleted her savings to get into this apartment.

She is stumped.

Three different girls. Three different stories related to housing. The girls have been working on goals during our life skills courses. They are learning to pull trusted friends into the mix to help rework the plan when they encounter obstacles. Oftentimes the girls pull in mentors.

A mentor encourages her to stay the course and offers to look at apartments together.

A mentor encourages her to make one more call after hearing no ten times.

A mentor hears about food insecurity and says, let’s go to the pantry together and makes sure she has a can opener.

Several girls are waiting for a mentor.

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Maybe that mentor is you.

Be sure to join us on October 11 from 6:00-8:00 PM to learn more about mentoring or getting involved at Grace’s Table. Come check out our space and learn how you can impact young families in West Michigan!

Looking forward to seeing you next week!

Mentoring through Storms

It started out a quiet Sunday evening. Doing a bedtime routine that I had done hundreds, maybe thousands of times before, but not finding rest after the lights were turned off as I would normally. Then the text came through… “Are you awake?”
 
Not far away, storms were descending upon the city and warnings abounded. Lightning lit up the sky, thunder crashed, and the wind howled. And a young mom, still not used to living on her own, reached out. “I hate thunderstorms.” 
 
Throughout our texts back and forth, I sent updates of what the radar looked like online, as well as where the warnings and worst of the storm was to help calm nerves. We talked about praying and finding a song that would be a comfort and calming in the midst of the chaos happening outside. But then I remembered the story of Jesus calming the storm and sent that along. {Matthew 8:23-27} 
 
Sometimes the fierce storms come up on us quickly. Yet there are other times we can see them coming from miles away… and can’t seem to change the fact that the storm feels like it is coming for us, no matter the path we choose. As Matthew shows us in this story, Jesus is always there… and will rebuke the wind and the waves. But we need to keep our faith that He is there to protect us no matter the how the storm rages and the chaos envelops us. 

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Today it was a literal thunderstorm, but tomorrow it could be unexpected car repairs or needing to find a new place to live.

And sometimes, for young moms or even those with years of life experience, knowing that you have someone that has taken the road before us, providing wisdom surrounding the storms we encounter in our lives and reminding us that our Savior is there beside us each step of the way, can make all the difference.
 
As a follower of Christ, I love that He has brought me to Grace’s Table to share my life with these women. In doing life with them, I can share my experiences and my faith. And hopefully, I can show them, even through the storms I’ve encountered, that God has been by my side the whole time. 

Julie
Mentor at Grace's Table

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Julie, also known as Aunt JuJu to her nephews & niece, has been a partner of Grace's Table for several years, and moved into mentoring a little over a year ago. In addition to mentoring she offers support and guidance during tax season for our families. Julie is a Compliance Manager with LVZ Advisors, Inc., and a genealogy guru! As a member of the Western Michigan Genealogical Society, she has recently taken on the role of Editor of the Michigana - a quarterly magazine of the Western Michigan Genealogy Society. In her free time, she enjoys researching genealogy, digital photography, writing, reading, and playing board games.

You Made it Happen!

Mia experienced a lot as a young child. In her words, “Growing up I experienced things nobody, certainly no child, should ever have to experience. I needed my mother, but we all ended up separated.” Today Mia is the mother of a 1-year old bundle of joy, and a 5-year old determined and helpful Kindergartner. She is raising her children, working, and going to school to earn her diploma. It keeps her busy. 
 
Even though she has reconnected with her mother, she admits she needs someone to encourage her to keep going, to show her the way, and help her stay on track. Mia is experiencing loneliness and longing for connection. She would love to have a Mentor. With all she is handling she has found it hard to get to church and often prays that God would help her find a way to connect to Him.
 
One day an invitation to Grace’s Table showed up on her phone.

 
 This was what Mia saw on her phone.

This was what Mia saw on her phone.

 

It talked about community and looked like something she might enjoy. She took a chance, accepted the invitation, and then bravely rang our doorbell. We helped her get acclimated to our space as we did a walk through. Her eyes lit up when she saw Room to Grow – our new area for kids and she questioned,

"who built this place?"

I shared with her that YOU made it happen. Because YOU believe in the power of community, teen mothers, their kiddos, and their futures YOU said yes to building a space where they could be empowered, educated, and encouraged in their faith. 

After her kiddos were settled in and playing, we headed to join the group for Bible study. After our time together, she shared the following, “I feel like this is an answer to my prayers. I’ve needed this and been asking God for something. Maybe this is it.” 

Maybe it is, Mia!

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Today, I want to thank YOU for being part of God's provision in Mia’s life. When you said YES to building Room to Grow at  Grace’s Table you invested in this young girl who would one day walk through the door and find something she had been looking for... a place to connect with God and community. That’s pretty awesome if you ask me!

Grace & Peace,
Lisa

P.S. Here is a tiny glimpse of a before and after picture of Room to Grow, but let's plan a time for you to visit and see it in all it's glory.