by W2WM Senior Program Assistant Andrea Baker + Intern Rachel Taylor
“One of the most dangerous times in an abusive relationship is when you are leaving it. And not only was I leaving it, but I was also desperately hanging on to the small farm my kids and I call home. I was counting change to have enough gas to get to work. I got through on sheer stubbornness and a refusal to give up. I was ready to take back my life. What was I going to do with my second chance? I knew I wasn’t going to waste it.”
Shawna came ready to take the next step in their life. Resources in the community such as Heartly House, Seton Center, and Woman to Woman Mentoring, Inc were resources that she depended on. The support Shawna received allowed her the opportunity to speak openly and safely in a way she had felt comfortable with before. With the support of her mentor Kim Lenta, Shawna was able to gain the confidence needed to move forward in her life.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the median monthly owner costs of a house in Frederick County, with a mortgage, is a little under $2,000. For many women in the program, this number is simply not a reality. Between childcare, health insurance, groceries, and other monthly expenses, the cost of living in Frederick has become a significant issue for many, causing families to close to or below the poverty line. Living paycheck to paycheck, for many, has become so commonplace that it is just another part of daily stress.
Women make up over 50 percent of the total population of Frederick County.
According to the 2020 ALICE Report, of single mother households, 27% are below the federal poverty line and 52% are ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed). This means that 79% of single mother households in Frederick County are struggling to get by. By providing women with mentorship, mentees gain access to resources, opportunities, and guidance that they may otherwise never receive in their lifetime.
Over time, given the proper resources, Shawna was able to make great strides in her economic and personal success. Having someone there to hold you accountable for your aspirations and goals is the difference between learning about services and changing your life. Mentoring then becomes the key component in action and allowing one to better themselves.
For many women, mentorship is an opportunity to create a better environment for them to thrive. Women come from all backgrounds, gender/nongender conforming, ages, sexualities, ethnicities, economic statuses, and races. A room full of so much diversity and eagerness to achieve all they are meant to be, leads to enlightening conversations and life-long friendships. By bonding together, both mentors and mentees find more confidence in their individual voice through the collection of many.