“There will always be a wall. It makes me sad,” jovial 19-year old Gabbie turns serious and tears form in her bright eyes. “I feel like my mom was never there for me.”

Susan Desrosiers, Gentle Arms teen parenting program director, says with a loving touch, “You know what it’s like to not be a good mom. Now do the opposite.”

Gentle Arms is a residential independent living program that assists teen mothers and their children. We provide a safe home environment and a supportive group setting where young women can develop their parenting skills.

Gabbie’s son, Evan, just turned one and took his first steps right in the living room of the comfortable home.

“Seeing children take their first steps is wonderful,” Desrosiers says. “In a real way, we are helping young mothers take their first steps in parenting, too. We want to make sure they are strong, confident steps.”

“When I was on my own,” Gabbie reflects, “I wanted to get my GED, but just didn’t do it.” She recently completed her GED and plans to attend community college next semester.

About the prospect of leaving Gentle Arms, Gabbie’s answer is clear. “I want to get out and be a family. Now I know what we need to do. My son can be raised right because I’m in this program. Because of Gentle Arms, we know what we need to do.”