The lack of support groups in Genesee County for mothers, and teen mothers, inspired Maria Rowland to bring the program, YoungLives to the area.
YoungLives is a support group for teen mothers to come together once a week.
YoungLives is a branch of Young Life, an outreach program for high school and middle school kids, which has programs in surrounding counties.
“There is a huge gap in Genesee County for moms,” Rowland said. “This is a huge opportunity. We need it.”
The support group meets on Tuesdays from 6:30 until 8 p.m. at 350 Bank St., Batavia.
Anyone age 16 to 20 is welcome at each session, which includes dinner, activities and childcare. The program is free and with no membership required.
Each participant is set up with a mentor, that they can come together with twice a week for “club time.” Transportation can be provided if needed.
“We do a lot of contact work,” Rowland said. “[It is] a time for us to get together and build relationships with them.”
During the summer, participants can also experience a weeklong camp. Babysitting is provided, while the participants experience camp life.
“It’s just a time for these girls to get together to support them and to love them where they’re at,” Rowland said.
The program is a collaboration with Teen MOPS, Mothers of Preschoolers. The first and third Tuesday of each month is for YoungLives meetings, while the second and fourth Tuesday is for Teen MOPS.
“Every Tuesday we have something set up for them,” Rowland said.
Rowland was inspired to bring the program to Genesee County after she saw multiple friends' daughters have children as teenagers.
“They had a huge support network within their family,” Rowland said. “Yet they still felt disconnected. I thought, ‘What is it like for those teen moms that don’t have that support group? What do they do?’ ”
The support group is meant to be a place for Genesee County teen mothers to feel safe, loved and supported, Rowland said.
“Our goal in this is to love the teen moms unconditionally,” Rowland said. “That is the whole purpose of me doing this, to love these girls unconditionally as Christ loves us, and that is why I am doing this.”