It’s nine o’clock as I watch Janaya sleep peacefully. Janaya is my life, my inspiration, my daughter. Just a little over a year ago, I never thought I would ever be where I am today. For the past nineteen years I’ve wasted time thinking about all the things that have gone wrong in my life, and never stopped to think about all the right things, the little things that made a difference.

Exactly a year ago, I came to Rosalie Hall as a resident, a student, and an outcast to my family and some of society. Rosalie Hall took me in and showed me a whole different point of view. They gave me love and support I so desperately needed, but most of all they gave me the family that I wanted. They gave me a place to call home.

Here I met a lot of wonderful friends with whom I could talk and share things, friends who have been there and understood what I was going through and who allowed me to share in there problems. The counselors were always there when I needed someone to talk to or a shoulder to cry on. To the teachers: Sr. Allen, Ms. Sealy Clifford, Ms. Bradbury, Mr. Michels, Mr. Iacobellis, thank you for showing me not to settle for good, but for my absolute best. Thank you for understanding those days when I could hardly keep my eyes open in class. Thank you to the daycare staff, Rosemary, Michelle, Vasiliki and Sandra for taking the best care of my child and how to handle those sticky situations she tends to get into.

Most of all I want to thank God and Rosalie Hall for just being there when I needed them the most because without them I wouldn’t have been there to receive the wonderful gift, my daughter, Janaya. Thank you for your friendships, for giving me the courage and strength to go out and not only exist in society, but to contribute to it.

On January 24th of this year, I had the honor to participate in the Recognition Celebration for the young women who completed their personal program at Rosalie Hall. There were 20 young women present to receive their certificate from teachers and counselors. At the end of the Celebration, Brigette Anderson stood up to address her fellow students and speak about her experiences at Rosalie Hall.

Brigette Anderson is a beautiful 18-year-old woman. What Brigette did not reveal in her speech is the tremendous challenges she overcame to continue with her pregnancy and parent her child. When Brigette discovered she was pregnant she was living in a woman’s shelter. The shelter permitted only a 3-month stay and it was suggested that Brigette locate a maternity home to have her child. Brigette selected Rosalie Hall and moved into the Residence Program.

Brigette’s quiet demeanor and aptitude for academics are the qualities which are apparent when you first meet her. It is her underlying strength of character which has enabled her to accept the challenges that all young single mothers face. While she credits Rosalie Hall with the structure and the environment of compassion that she needed, it is a partnership between women like Brigette and our counselors, staff, teachers, and volunteers which leads to self-confidence and hope for a better future. Brigette provides a powerful example of this partnership.

Since leaving Rosalie Hall, Brigette has returned to her community school and will graduate in June. Brigette’s future plans are to complete a biological technician’s diploma at Community College. She is grateful for the skills and resources she learned at Rosalie Hall. Brigette’s daughter Janaya, is enjoying her new daycare which is only 5 minutes from their home. Brigette is excited about returning to Rosalie Hall this month for her daughter’s special “Blessing for Children” which she will receive through the Pastoral Program.

The Misericordia Sisters, staff, teachers and volunteers are very proud of Brigette and all the young women who were recognized on January 24th. We are enriched daily in working with these young single mothers as they overcome their personal challenges – may they continue to journey in hope.