For over 30 years, Girls Inc. has helped girls and young pregnant women in Durham but the impact of the pandemic has created many challenges for the charity.
Despite the hurdles, the organization is still doing its best to make a difference amid a baby boom.
Selena Alleyne says the group has been there to support her as she’s spent the past seven months caring for her son Caleb.
“He plays, crawls, he hardly cries, loves Elmo; he’s just a happy baby,” said Alleyne.
It hasn’t been an easy journey for the 21-year-old.
Besides Caleb, she’s juggling her first year of nursing school.
Selena has needed help not only during her pregnancy but still to this day.
“It’s really hard, there wasn’t really that many family supports in my life, so Food For Thought (program) and Girls Inc. were kind of there to show me what to do and be that support system for me,” said Alleyne.
Tracey McCannell with Girls Inc. of Durham made a grocery delivery on Friday to Alleyne, who receives them once a week.
McCannell says the group has “moms that have just become pregnant and moms that are coming to us now with their due dates very close.”
“Our biggest concern has been trying to reach our mothers and normally pre-COVID we had the moms come out to our sites, we had eight different sites right across Durham Region. The thing that we experienced is not being, obviously, have our moms come out but the need for them has, if anything, increased,” said McCannell.
McCannell has been helping young mothers for the past 15 years. She says between 45 and 50 moms a week are receiving groceries — that’s more than normal for the Food For Thought program.
“You can’t just assume that everyone, just because they have a car or because they have a place to live aren’t struggling and we need to meet those needs,” said McCannell.
While the pandemic has brought challenges, there’s also been some light. McCannell says they’ve seen a baby boom over the past few months with over 100. She expects with this lockdown to have another boom later this year.
As for Alleyne, she appreciates the help and doesn’t know who she would call on if she didn’t have it.
“From our group on Zoom, I’ve seen that there’s so many of us who’ve had babies recently and unfortunately with COVID we can’t really connect with each other as moms but it’s good that there’s a community and support system for us.”