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Former teen mom creates organization helping others through unexpected pregnancies

Posted at 6:40 PM, Sep 30, 2022

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — An outreach organization can make a major difference in someone’s life with changing federal law and increased scrutiny surrounding unplanned pregnancy.

A group in Grand Rapids does just that, which is why Lakeshia Gilbert with HOAP, Inc. has been named our Pay It Forward Person of the Month, sponsored by Lake Michigan Credit Union.

“So just going through the journey of shame, going through the journey of having people place labels on you, dealing with the stereotype, stereotypical judgements and mindsets from individuals who don’t even know you,” Gilbert explained to FOX 17.

Gilbert hopes to smooth out those issues through her organization, HOAP, Inc.

HOAP stands for Helping Our Adolescents Prosper. It provides education workshops that focus on healthy relationships, financial literacy and mental health.

It also provides at-risk youth with basic essential needs like toiletries, diapers and wipes, as well as transportation.

Gilbert knows the struggles because she, too, was a teen mom.

“God allowed me to prosper through that journey so that I would be able to go back and help other individuals who are in the same path,” Gilbert said.

She hopes to pass along that same success to other moms who might not have the same support.

“She earned it. She deserves so much. What you give is what you get,” said Cindy Vargas, an ambassador mom.

“Keisha is a blessing to the mothers out here. Not just the mothers, but the teams,” added volunteer Lakesha Jackson.

Gilbert says the money will go right back into the organization to help provide more of those basic essentials.

“We are good soil to sow a seed because we give it right back through the harvest that we reap for our young moms and their children, and our youth and adolescents, too, so I’m just excited because that just means now we continue to be a blessing to them,” Gilbert added.

If you know someone who should be our next Pay It Forward Person of the Month, you can nominate them here.

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