Growing up, Devin’s Life was far from easy. Raised by a young single mother and without a father in the picture, their family lacked financial stability and a safe place to call home. They were frequently evicted from their residences and moved often.

Over time, Devin became increasingly anxious about starting anew after each move. Soft spoken and a little shy, she struggled to find her footing in the midst of so many changes and new environments. Poverty made matters worse.

“We were so poor that I owned only two sets of clothes that fit me. Kids made fun of me. I dreaded going to school every day.”

Devin’s mother developed a substance abuse problem, and things became even more challenging for young Devin. After suffering neglect at home and being sexually assaulted in middle school, she grew more rebellious and began skipping school.

“I though of running away many times, but where would I go? I had nowhere to go. There was no one I could turn to for help.”

At fifteen years old, she dropped out of school and permanently left her mother’s house. She moved in with a friend and worked multiple low paying jobs just to make ends meet.

At eighteen years of age, she unexpectedly became pregnant with her daughter Lariah.

“I was scared, but also excited. All I ever wanted was to have a family, someone to hug, teach and love.”

A friend brought her to EPS.

“I was so thankful to be part of the EPS program. There were so many things that my baby needed that I could not afford, but EPS provided. But most importantly, I finally had people to help me. The classes taught me how to be a good mom. I made new friends, and I found others to share in my excitement. I had a really hard time leaving EPS when my daughter aged out of the program. I missed the encouragement and emotional support.”

Years later, in the midst of a cross-country move to Boston with her young daughter, Devin was struggling with the reality of another unplanned pregnancy. The child was conceived in a casual relationship with a man who was no longer interested in Devin or her daughter child. Her roommates were furious upon discovering her pregnancy. They threatened to leave Devin and her daughter homeless and penniless in a new city unless she would terminate her pregnancy. Devin refused initially, but eventually caved under the influence of unrelenting threats and intimidation.

“I really didn’t want to do it. I desperately wanted my baby, but I didn’t think I had a choice. I had no money, no job, and no place to stay. I was scared and made the single worst mistake of my life.”

In the wake of her decision, Devin fell into a deep depression.

“I cried, and cried, and cried all by myself for so long. It was so hard. It hurt to even look at my toddler daughter. The guilt was overwhelming. I had no support, nobody to talk to. I’ve never felt so alone.”

Eventually, Devin and Lariah made their way back to Nebraska, hoping for a better future for them both. She found steady employment and began to rebuild her life.

When Devin discovered she was pregnant again, she was overcome with emotion. She felt happiness for the new life growing within her, yet hit by a new wave of sadness and grief for the child she lost to abortion. This time, she knew she wouldn’t allow anyone to pressure her into making the wrong decision. She found her way back to EPS. In July 2017, Devin and her fianc√© welcomed their daughter, Iyana, into the world.

“EPS is my safe place. It’s a relief to be surrounded by positive people who really care. I’ve had a lot of bad things happen in my life and I wasn’t used to so much kindness. It helps to talk about my past experiences, and to share my feelings. Each week I look forward to class, and the boutique items are really helping me provide for my family.

For those who may be going through a difficult time, always remember that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. This is just for now, not forever. Don’t allow others to make your choices for you, and know that you are strong enough to handle whatever comes your way. Rely on God and ask for help. Don’t let pride get in the way, because everyone needs help sometimes.”