Magazine article Public Welfare

State Dispatches: California

Magazine article Public Welfare

State Dispatches: California

Article excerpt

Maricela Cabello first came to the United States to visit her father, who had promised her a trip to Disneyland. What Maricela didn't know was that her father had arranged with her mother, who was living in Mexico with Maricela's siblings, for the 15-year-old to remain permanently in Los Angeles.

Two years later, Maricela was pregnant and living in cramped quarters with her father and stepmother. She was trying to complete high school, but she had no job prospects and no help from the father of her child. When her stressful home environment became too much, Maricela sought solace in a Los Angeles shelter that proved to be worse than home. Then she found New Economics for Women, an organization founded in 1984 that provides affordable housing and new opportunities for low-income single parents.

Since November 1995, Maricela has lived in La Posada, a facility for unwed teenage mothers run by New Economics for Women. She was among the first participants to enter the two-year program at La Posada. She is responsible for $225 in monthly rent, which she pays by serving as the facility's part-time receptionist. Maricela has also completed two semesters of college.

In her almost two years at La Posada, Maricela has learned to meet the health and emotional needs of her now-4-year-old daughter, Yoslyne, while also acquiring job skills and making steady progress toward a college degree. Most important, she has gained a degree of independence. "I'm really proud of everything I have done here, " says Maricela. …

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