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31 Jul 2020

Unsung Heroes: Mama's House Volunteer Sharon Mottern Helps Young Mothers Get on a Path to Self-Sufficiency

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Sharon Mottern. Sharon Mottern.

Ginny Rowlette introduced her dear friend Sharon Mottern to Mama’s House. Ginny Rowlette has served on the Mama’s House board of directors for three years and is very passionate about the organization’s critical mission.

Mama’s House is the only residential home in the Coachella Valley providing shelter for women in crisis pregnancies. The nonprofit opened its doors seven years ago and has since served more than 230 mothers and babies, offering a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for these mothers to conquer fears, face challenges and get back on track for success. The young women who come to Mama’s House are in crisis pregnancies—with nowhere else to go, and no means of support.

After Sharon began learning more about the nonprofit’s good work, she began to think about how she could help these young mothers. She felt her career as a certified K-12 teacher with 10 years of classroom experience would definitely make a difference.

“We are extremely grateful for volunteers like Sharon Mottern, because her role is vital to the success of our Mama’s House residents,” said Christina Saldivar, the Mama’s House director.

Sharon decided to set up a meeting with Jan Lupia, the founder and executive director of Mama’s House—and Sharon quickly realized her teaching background would be a definite fit. She was confident she could tutor these young mothers in reading, English and governmental studies, and she told Jan she would be happy to help. In January 2018, after completing the thorough Mama’s House vetting process, Sharon began the tutoring process by giving her new students reading assessments. She quickly realized that some of the girls were not avid readers, so she brought books from her home to share—and found herself working closely with them.

“Most of these young girls needed a year or two at Mama’s House to work to obtain their GED and/or high school diploma, in order to continue as residents,” Sharon said. “The girls have to obtain their GED or high school diploma in order to secure employment after their babies are born. This is considered critical.”

Sharon began tutoring the girls in English and governmental studies, working with them each week for an hour at the Hope Center—the educational and counseling extension of Mama’s House—while their babies were being cared for by another volunteer.

“Once the girls are accepted for residency at Mama’s House, there are a lot of rules and requirements they must abide by to teach these mothers responsibilities for not only caring for themselves and their babies, but for achieving their goals,” Sharon said. “They are kept busy and adhere to a regular schedule. There are so many things they are involved in, such as the Learn-and-Earn Program, Bible study, cleaning chores, attending classes, seminars and conferences, etc. Mama’s House’s programs were developed to keep these young women safe, engaged and motivated to make a better life for themselves and their babies going forward.”

Sharon has found her work at Mama’s House to be quite rewarding. She said the residents to be polite, happy and appreciative of what she is doing for them.

“I listen to them and always treat them with respect,” Sharon said. “You have to know where they started from. The girls would tell me that their brains were better before they went on the drugs they took; they share things with me like that. When I started, they could all read, but the comprehension needed to be worked on.

“The girls are in the Mama’s House program for approximately 1 1/2 years, because the organization tries to keep these girls long enough to prepare them for employment. They often go into nursing programs where they can get a job fairly easily.”

For her tutoring program, Sharon collaborated closely with the Coachella Valley Adult School (cvadultschool.com), which provided the curriculum, books and materials for the girls to complete the courses to get their high school diplomas.

Sandra was a resident at Mama’s House—and is one of Sharon’s biggest success stories. Sandra was able to obtain her high school diploma with Sharon’s help, and left Mama’s House in 2019 to pursue a nursing program.

“Being at Mama’s House turned my life around,” Sandra says. “I was able to get sober and into recovery, complete classes, and learn to take care of myself. The mentoring I received, especially from Sharon, was a blessing. The program at Mama’s House prepared me to be on my own and to keep my daughter.”

For more information on Mama’s House, visit www.themamashouse.org. Madeline Zuckerman is the owner and president of M. Zuckerman Marketing and Public Relations. Her firm represents Mama’s House.

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