The Jones Family
Shauna Jones was 21 when she first came to Midtown. A happy go lucky young adult, she was a high school grad holding down a job waiting tables, which allowed her to cross the thin line of making ends meet. A few weeks earlier Shauna had experienced life altering news that forever changed her life. She found out she was pregnant. While not down on her luck, Shauna was anxious, with growing stresses coming from how to operate as a single mother, the variable income of waiter, and no mentor to help her through a pregnancy. As a resident of the Forest Park Southeast Neighborhood, Shauna had a rapport with her neighbors, and through these relationships she was introduced to Midtown.
Shauna came to our center for the first time in October, 1994. Our team welcomed her with open arms and guided Shauna to the Family P.R.I.D.E. Program. This program is our critical outreach effort to help to pregnant women and newborns. It began in 1993 in response to very high infant mortality rates in our service area. Family P.R.I.D.E. provided Shauna with outreach in her home; in the community; and with health care organizations, to find and connect her to educational services and basic needs for her forthcoming, new family. We are proud to note that this type of engagement is working. Though there are still unacceptably high infant mortality rates in St. Louis, 98% of babies born to our participants have been healthy!
On April 15, 1995, Shauna welcomed Malik into the world. A health baby boy, Malik started off under the watchful eyes of both his loving mother and the Family P.R.I.D.E Program, ensuring basic needs were met as he grew. Further, Shauna greatly benefited from the programs that prepared her for life as a new mother, and that safety blanket was also there for Malik as he grew up. Shauna and Malik participated in the “Friends Around the Neighborhood” playgroups (set up by Family P.R.I.D.E) during Malik’s early, formative years.
In the fall of 2000, Malik entered Kindergarten, and began participating in Midtown’s Afterschool Clubs. These programs have been identified as an effective solution to a critical challenge in central St. Louis urban families: affordable and engaging supervision during a vulnerable, danger-prone time of day for urban youth. Malik struggled with his early reading skills, but thanks to the tutoring provided in the afterschool program he improved quickly. He benefitted from daily improvement of school skills and a safe, supervised haven of fun that kept him out of trouble. A long-running and trusted program, thousands of children have grown up at Midtown afterschool programs over the last 30 years. During the summers, Malik also participated in the Summer Day Camps. Midtown youth K-12 have participated in this signature program since 1990, allowing neighborhood parents and guardians to go to work with peace of mind about their kids, who often attend year after year. Malik learned and had fun during these summer days with this camp program that was rooted in wholesome activities, healthy living and building respect for each other and the community.
When Malik “aged out” of the Afterschool Clubs, he then joined the Teen Club which gave him the opportunity to help with the younger children involved in the afterschool clubs, thus giving back to what he had benefitted from. The Teen Club also helped to prepare him for applying to colleges (the first in his family to even apply). At this point during the summers, instead of being a participant of the Summer Day Camp, he was now one of the Youth Leaders helping with the camp. This helped him to learn responsibility and the importance of commitment to a job.
In the Spring of 2014, Malik was accepted into 2 different colleges. He started college the fall of 2014, and has chosen to go into computer programming. He is on target to graduate on time the spring of 2018. This summer he has already attained an internship with a computer programming company in St. Louis. The hope is that this will lead to a permanent position when he graduates in 2018. Malik knows that without the help and support that he received at Midtown that he would not be where he is today. He is a testament to what Midtown can do to help individuals. He is excited to be the first in his family to graduate from college, and to break the cycle of poverty that has plagued his family for generations!
Throughout these years, Midtown Community Services worked with the Jones’ based on Catholic Social Teaching -- particularly Dignity, Solidarity and Subsidiarity. Midtown will continue to be there for the Jones’. Shauna values the community environment Midtown offers. She joined the Midtown Mama’s once Malik began school, and continues to be heavily involved with the women of the neighborhood.
The Jones’ are just one example of how Midtown improves lives. Midtown Community Services is committed to achieving these kinds of results on behalf of the community we serve for years to come.