Teen mothers and their children socialize at a Christmas party sponsored by Lutheran Family and Children’s Services of Missouri at St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church in Columbia, Mo. The organization sponsors Success for Young Women, which provides a support group and teaches life skills like budgeting and parenting to teen mothers. “We’re the ones that want to do something with our lives, not just surviving,” Vashante Vinyard said.
Chrisma Edwards and Vashante Vinyard laugh at a photo of their daughters. Vinyard became pregnant at 17, but hasn’t let the hardships of teen motherhood lessen her ambition. Next semester she will begin classes at Moberly Area Community College becoming the first person in her family to attend college. She wants to be an interpreter in sign language and Spanish. “I want to build something I can stand on and offer my siblings and my child,” Vinyard said.
Vinyard works on a budget for household products while she tries to get her daughter, Janaija “Niya” Kimbrough, 16 months, to take a nap. Vinyard is on tight budget, and does hair on the weekends for gas money.
Vinyard kisses Janaija after eating hamburgers for lunch. Vinyard says she doesn’t really like cooking because as the oldest child in her family, she grew up cooking for a large family and cleaning up afterwards.
Vinyard works cleaning office buildings for two hours every weeknight evening. She used to work more hours per day, but was laid off, and later rehired for the two-hour shift.