BRUNSWICK COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - They say it takes a village to raise a child. Volunteers at Samara’s Village work to teach young parents how to raise a healthy child.
Only four years old, the organization opened to address the alarming teen pregnancy rate in Brunswick County, compared to the counties that surround it.
“We want to change lives we want to help people and we don’t want to see the cycle continue," said Debbie Keener, Program Director. "We don’t want to see them have another unplanned baby; we don’t want to see their baby’s become teen parents before they’re ready to become parents. If we can make a difference and make them understand how to prevent an unplanned pregnancy then we’re making an impact.”
Keener is head of the program that brings in new and soon to be parents and teaches them about parenthood. They go to class and even get a mentor to guide them on what to expect.
These “Home Visitors” are parents and grandparents who have their own families and use their experiences to help these new moms and dads.
“Just an ear to listen," said Alexia Campbell, a student at North Brunswick High School. "I’m so grateful to have someone to listen to me talk and support me through everything.”
Alexia is a student at North Brunswick High School and Kevin Arago goes to Cape Fear Community College. When their daughter, Harmony, was born, it wasn’t easy. They weren’t sure how they were going to be able to continue on the same path.
Alexia’s dad heard about Samara’s Village and their mindsets completely changed.
“Made us feel like it’s a blessing instead of something that’s going to hold us back," Kevin said. "They’re just telling us you can still be whatever you want in life, you just have to work a little harder, but this is a blessing at the end of the day.”
Alexia still is on her school’s soccer team, rejoining the team only eight weeks after childbirth. She wants to be an architect while Kevin is making strides toward becoming a nurse.
Neither of their dreams are far from becoming a reality with the help of Samara’s Village. It’s a place where they learn how to be responsible for the life they’ve created while striving to improve their lives still to come.
“We can’t go back and change history, so it’s like here’s where we are, let’s meet them where they are, let’s move them forward to where they want to go," Keener explained.
Samara’s Village has helped more than 50 teens and young adults with their pregnancies, each with their own unique story.
The one-of-a-kind organization hopes to expand to surrounding areas in the future to act as an outlet for teen parents who need assistance.