Detroiter Tyra Moore’s nonprofit assists teen moms, just like her

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[et_pb_column type=”4_4″][et_pb_text admin_label=”Text”]Being a mother is hard. And being a teen mother can be even harder still.

Teen girls and young women may feel scared and alone; be unaware of where to turn for resources; or lack a mentor or someone to help walk them through the stages of pregnancy and motherhood. And then there is the stigma attached to being a young mother.

Tyra Moore, of Detroit, says she understands this struggle all too well. She was 15 when she had a baby. She was so scared she didn’t tell her mom until the Tuesday before she gave birth.

Tyra Moore, pictured with her daughter Samari Malone at her first birthday party in 2008.

Now 29, Moore, says she saw constant negativity regarding teen moms, rather than assistance for them in the community. So she decided to change all that, to try to make a difference so that other young women and girls wouldn’t have to endure the pitfalls that she faced.

In 2019, Moore created A Girl Like Me Inc., a nonprofit for girls, teens, teen moms, and moms aged 11-25. The group provides expectant moms with free baby products and feminine products, they host a weekly mentoring program and provide moms with resources from transportation to food and housing. Housed in Southfield, the nonprofit holds all community events and drop-offs in Detroit, because that’s where its resources are most needed.

The Saturday mentorship program watches a video about finances at the A Girl Like Me, Inc. non-profit in Southfield on March 13, 2021. Tyra Moore, who founded A Girl Like Me, Inc, says the non-profit serves young girls and helps them navigate growing up with loss, stress and puberty by providing resources like food, baby items. "We're like big sisters to them," says Moore, "if they don't have anyone to talk to, they can always talk to us about anything that may be going on in their life."

“(There are) a lot of young girls and teens that are going through the same situation as me and are scared to tell their parents because they’re young and pregnant,” Moore said. They aren’t provided with familial, peer or community assistance; or with needed items or someone to talk to as they go through the process of being a young mom, she said. That’s where she comes in.

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“I decided I was going to pay it forward for girls and young moms like me that’s probably going through the same situation,” she said.

Approximately 1,600 Detroit teens ages 15-19 become pregnant each year, a number that is more than 2.5 times the rest of the state’s teens. So the need for the type of assistance Moore’s organization provides in the city is great.

Moore said she is glad that she’s now able to serve in a role that she didn’t have as a teen mom: “Mentorship is needed. To know you can get through being a young mom and finish your education, to having a career. A baby doesn’t stop your life.”

Tyra Moore founded A Girl Like Me, Inc. non-profit to serve young girls and help them navigate growing up with loss, stress and puberty. A Girl Like Me, Inc. also provides resources like food, baby items and Saturday mentorship programs, like the one pictured. "We're like big sisters to them," says Moore, "if they don't have anyone to talk to, they can always talk to us about anything that may be going on in their life."

Moore notes that serving in the role of a confidante for so many is her biggest highlight since launching A Girl Like Me. Moore says that many of her mentees have come to her — before their own families even — to reveal that they’re carrying a child; and she’s provided them with resources and counseling. She’s also served as a mediator between teen moms and their families.

Moore has done most of her work with her own money, which she says isn’t an issue, but the reason why stings: Moore says she’s been turned down more than once when asking for contributions.

“A lot of places don’t help with the type of organization that I have, so I have used my own savings to sponsor everything,” said Moore.

A Girl Like Me has two volunteers, and Moore says she’s always looking for more.

Marilyn Williams, of Detroit, is one of them. Williams and Moore became acquainted through their daughters, who are best friends. Williams has assisted Moore with everything from organizing paperwork to assembling packages of donated items. But when she discussed the mentoring program, she got teary eyed.

 

Tyra Moore founded A Girl Like Me, Inc. non-profit to serve young girls and help them navigate growing up with loss, stress and puberty. A Girl Like Me, Inc. also provides resources like foo, baby items and Saturday mentorship programs, like the one pictured. "We're like big sisters to them," says Moore, "if they don't have anyone to talk to, they can always talk to us about anything that may be going on in their life."

“There are so many young ones that feel alone. But they’re never alone. There is so much help out here and people who care,” said Williams, who says she appreciates watching the growth of the program participants.

Williams said that she can tell that the girls feel more and more secure, stable and confident from week to week. As the girls open up, Williams says that she sees that each of them looks forward to the mentoring program, each weekend.

Shantell Woods, 33, is Moore’s cousin and another volunteer. Just like Moore, Woods was a teen mom. “When my cousin told me about (A Girl Like Me), I was excited to work with her because I was a young mom and I know how it is to struggle,” she said.

Tyra Moore, founder of A Girl Like Me, Inc. non-profit, hands t-shirts to Shantell Woods, 32, of Detroit to hand out to the young girls in their mentorship class every Saturday in Southfield on March 13, 2021. Moore says the non-profit serves young girls and helps them navigate growing up with loss, stress and puberty. A Girl Like Me, Inc. also provides resources like food and baby items. "We're like big sisters to them," says Moore, "if they don't have anyone to talk to, they can always talk to us about anything that may be going on in their life."

Since Williams began volunteering nearly a year ago, she said she has witnessed how the organization has grown and the difference it is helping to make for young women and girls. One example, in particular, still brings tears to her eyes.

During the group’s diaper drive last year, a young mother happened to walk by and saw the baby items they were giving away. “Tyra went up and spoke to her, and let her know we were there for her… she was able to get diapers and other baby items,” said Williams, who marveled at the coincidence. She said the young lady told them that seeing them was right on time. She said, “It was nothing but God.”

As Moore helps other young ladies navigate pregnancy and motherhood, she reminisces on her own growth since being that scared, pregnant 15-year-old.

Tyra Moore, founder of A Girl Like Me, Inc. non-profit, center, talks with Marilyn Williams, 50, of Detroit, right, and her two daughters, Amaray Peterson, 15, left, and Rayne Peterson, 13, during the mentorship class held every Saturday in Southfield on March 13, 2021. Moore says she started the non-profit for her daughter and wants to serve young girls and help them navigate growing up with loss, stress and puberty. Williams and Moore met when their daughters, Rayna and Samari became close friends playing volleyball together. "We're like big sisters to them," says Moore, "if they don't have anyone to talk to, they can always talk to us about anything that may be going on in their life."

“My daughter grew up with me. She helped me to become a better parent,” said Moore, who has two more children now and says that now her parenting skills are top tier. “Being young and raising a baby at a young age was hard. But going through it, I learned a lot.”

As she hopes for the day when teen pregnancy will become less taboo, Moore has a message to those who encounter teen moms: “As parents, family, friends and community, we all should come together and help young girls and teen moms — and girls in general — who may be going through a tough time. …We should all try to reach out, wrap our arms around them, talk to them and learn from them. Being a teen mom isn’t the perfect choice, but we shouldn’t put them down. We should help them, and encourage them.”

To donate to A Girl Like Me visit their GoFundMe, or sign up to volunteer, email agirllikeme2007@gmail.com, or follow the nonprofit on Instagram @agirllikemeinc.

Kyla L. Wright is a Detroit native who covers the city’s neighborhoods and the various people, places and things that give Detroit its unique character. You can reach her at klwright@freepress.com and follow her on Twitter at @kylawrightmedia.[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column]
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