On December 10, 2018, at the Father Benedict Groeschel Annual Award Dinner, there was dining and dancing and celebration. One very special guest was at the dinner for an important reason. Leah Marquis, along with her daughter Skylar, was there to bravely speak to the roomful of people about what Good Counsel has meant to her. Standing right by her side were Tatyana & Dominque, two of the staff members who had been with her since she arrived at Good Counsel.
Leah began by telling how she found out she was pregnant and what happened next. "I didn’t tell my parents at first out of fear. At the end of February, I was at school and I called my parents to tell them I didn’t feel well. My mom suddenly asked me 'are you pregnant?' My answer was 'yes.' When I got home, I was told I either had to have an abortion or get out." Those were Leah's options - abortion or being homeless...
After a few tumultuous weeks, Leah's aunt remembered reading something about Good Counsel and suggested that she contact us. The first few weeks at Good Counsel were not any easier for Leah. "Every night I would cry myself to sleep thinking in agony 'why God, why me!' I was at my lowest point in my life. Some days I wished I wasn’t even born. I didn’t even know if I wanted my baby anymore; I wanted to put her up for adoption when she was born."
Things began to turn around when Leah reached out to her case manager Tatayana for "advice and comfort." Leah continued, "One morning I woke up and felt a peaceful feeling and knew adoption wasn’t right for me."
With the support of her case manager and other staff and volunteers, Leah began to plan for a different future. “I was able to graduate high school and get my diploma. I was overcome with pride. I was proving everyone wrong. I wasn’t a failure. I was offered an educational grant from Good Counsel to get my CNA license.” Leah was set on a path to success. “In August I was awarded my CNA license.” Leah still had rough days but said that “some days I would just sit and talk with staff like Ms. Anissa, Ms. Dominique, Ms. Lynn, and Ms. Felicia. By having conversations with them I developed a great amount of trust. I knew I could always count on them to talk to if I needed emotional support in hard times.”
Fast forward to the best part of the story, Leah continued, “On September 6th, I gave birth to my beautiful daughter, Skylar. She is my heart and soul. I am the one she will look up to for guidance. The thought of a little one looking up to me for all the answers can seem a little scary but that will not shake me, I have been through so much and it was all for her.”
There are so many young women like Leah facing the same or even worse circumstances - but hope remains when love is given. Leah has recently transitioned out of Good Counsel and is living with her parents - a relationship she was able to rebuild during her stay. She is set to begin community college to obtain her R.N. license. Closing out her talk, Leah said, “I no longer have regrets; I only look forward focusing on the positive of each day thankful for where I am at now. I am not a statistic 'teen mom.' I am more than that.”
Yes, Leah, you most definitely are so much more!
A crisis or unplanned pregnancy does not have to lead to another statistic. Homelessness does not need to be permanent. If you would like to help young women like Leah, women who have dreams and drive but just need some help, please click here for more information about how you can make a difference.
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