by Angela Sanders, Freelance Writer

“Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” Psalm 119:105

Twenty-six-year-old Kaylee was living in her car, strung out on meth and hanging around a rough crowd. On November 10, 2015, she was arrested for possession and spent seven months behind bars.

“It got me clean,” Kaylee says with a shrug, “so, in a way, it was a good thing. I’m grateful. I really am.”

Shortly after being released from jail, Kaylee moved in with her mother Betty and met a man who would soon become the father of her children. “He was our neighbor,” Kaylee says.

“We started hanging out. Then I found out in fall of 2016 I was pregnant. I took a test. When I saw it was positive, I googled ‘pregnancy centers near me,’ and Hope Pregnancy Center was the first one that popped up. I went there and got the pregnancy confirmed. They did an ultrasound a couple of weeks later.”

“I didn’t ever want an abortion,” Kaylee says with an emphatic shake of her head. “I’m against it. I was a first-time mom, though, and I wanted to learn things before I had my son, so I started the Empowered Parenting classes at Hope with his dad.” Kaylee and her baby’s father were able to purchase necessary items from Hope’s Baby Boutique using the baby bucks they earned by attending classes. “We graduated a few months before my son Caden was born. By then, we had everything we needed, really: a crib that turns into a toddler bed, clothes, diapers wipes, towels and blankets.”

Kaylee’s first experience with Hope was so positive she didn’t hesitate to return when she found out she was expecting her daughter. By then, Kaylee had married the father of her children.

“Kynlee was a surprise,” Kaylee says. “When I took a test and saw it was positive, my very first thought was, ‘Go to Hope.’ The whole idea of having another baby was nerve-racking because we were financially unstable at the time. Also, our relationship was rocky. It wasn’t a healthy marriage at all.”

Kaylee and her husband ended up separating before their daughter’s birth; their divorce was finalized soon after. Even so, Kaylee hasn’t let personal heartache interfere with her goal of parenting well.

“I decided to go back to classes at Hope to continue learning,” Kaylee says.

Director of Hope, Tulsa Karen Alley explains, “Typically when we’ve had clients who have gone all the way through the program, we don’t encourage them to repeat, especially if their life seems stable, but we use discretion, too. When Kaylee revealed with baby number two she had problems in her life and felt fearful, we decided it would be good for her and her family to have the support system Hope provides. She was very committed the first time, so we knew she would benefit. The others in her class were her people – her community. They formed a deep bond we hadn’t anticipated being a side-effect of those group classes. It was a safe place, and we were humbled and privileged to be a part of her life when she needed us. We were sad for her family with all that was going on, but glad to be of help.”

After her daughter Kynlee’s birth, Kaylee switched to daytime one-on-one sessions instead of group classes. “I meet with Miss Wendy now to talk about baby care and things like that,” Kaylee says. “We do Bible studies together, too. She gives me lessons I take home, then we talk about them the next week. They’re all about God and we learn memory verses. It’s very helpful.”

Kaylee and Family

Kaylee admitted, “I confessed my sin when I was 14, but I didn’t really understand what to do afterwards. When I got out of jail, my pastor talked to me—he’s been through a lot, too—and I rededicated myself to God. It has made a big difference. I’m still working on things, but I know I wouldn’t have made it this far if I didn’t have Jesus. I wouldn’t be five years clean with two happy kids without Him, and this spring, I got off probation, which will hopefully result in getting my record expunged and getting a job.”

Kaylee has much to be grateful for: two happy, healthy children, a devoted mother willing to help her parent in the cozy, child-friendly environment they’ve created for the four of them, and an entire support system of kind Christian women. In addition, Kaylee is forever grateful for the family she has found in the staff and volunteers at Hope and to all those whose financial gifts have given her a place to turn in her time of need.

“This would all have gone different without Hope. I needed a support system. I had my family, of course, but having more people behind me made me strong.”