It is rare when you meet someone so dedicated to a principal she is willing to make personal sacrifices to achieve that goal. Connie Nafziger is that person.
I met Connie at the “Y” where she, like the rest of us, is trying to maintain a healthy body. In between grunts, groans, and splashes in our deep water aerobics class, Connie told me about her vision. It is a vision to break the cycle of poverty by empowering young single moms with a safe place to live and learn. She was so dedicated to this concept she quit her job as a Community Health Nurse to establish Chloe’s Place.
CHLOE Inc., a not for profit organization, stands for community health, life skills, opportunities, and education. The goal of CHLOE is to equip young single moms with the education and life skills they need to break the cycle of poverty. They plan to achieve this goal by establishing a self-sufficiency home where the moms and their babies can live for a couple of years while achieving educational, relational, and career milestones.
It has been a long ten year journey for Connie and her team but they will soon be offering Life Skill classes on the second and fourth week of each month. There is no participation fee for the twelve month program that is open to 12 young single moms. The participants will be working with counselors, case workers, mentors, educators and volunteers who will provide resources for the moms. The children and infants involved will have access to ongoing developmental screening.
The current location for the Saturday classes is the Sharon Woods Baptist Church, 5959 Sharon Woods Blvd, Columbus (just North of Route 161). However, they are currently looking for a residential facility to house the young participants while they progress through the program. Additionally, they would like this facility to be capable of housing a coffee shop which will, in turn, help train the participants for job skills and also provide a source of income for the project.
The mission statement says young moms will be equipped with the knowledge, skills, and disposition to continue their education and become personally fulfilled and socially responsible adults while promoting positive parenting, healthy families, and homes where children are valued and loved.
Another important aspect of the program is to provide opportunities for the participants to build a firm foundation for her spiritual well-being. Connie and her team are so dedicated to the concept of participants finding their own spiritual center that they have even rejected close ties with various churches for fear of a particular faith dominating the program.
There are several ways you can help Connie and her team break the cycle of poverty. They are always open to donations of all kinds, especially money and gift cards in any amounts. They also could use gift cards to Target and Office Max for class supplies. In addition, they could use:
- Children’s books
- Flip camcorder for filming parent/child interaction in parenting classes
- Colorful round or square table cloths for parenting classes
More specific items needed are:
(please call before purchasing to prevent duplication)
- Art—Peace curriculum ($150)
- Coffee maker
- Food mixer
- High chair/booster seat
- Infant side bed
- Ironing board
If you wish to become a partner of the project there are several categories you can do so:
- Impact Partners donate a onetime gift of $1,000 or more
- Hope Partners commit to monthly payments (any amount)
- Equipping Partners sponsor a teen mom’s enrollment in a specific program or project (amounts vary)
- Under $20 Club members donate items or gift cards of $20 or less once every couple of months. (i.e. paper towels, diapers, school supplies) when contacted by the staff.
For those who would rather give of their talents and time, there are several opportunities for you.
- Office support
- Web design services
- Grant writer
- Fund raising
- Legal counsel
Volunteers working directly with the young moms are requested to be women only due to the sensitive nature of the work. Those positions are:
- Mentors needed to nurture and encourage them in their journey toward self-sufficiency. Mentors need to submit to a background check and complete training sessions provided by CHLOE leadership staff.
- Child care volunteers needed to help Child Care staff during CHLOE’S Moms Connection Classes. Classes will meet evenings twice a month.
- Snacks prepared by individuals or groups and served at CHLOE’S Moms Connection sessions.
- Transportation—once the residential facility is operational volunteers will be needed to provide transportation to scheduled appointments and group activities. A valid driver’s license, up-to-date insurance, good driving record, and reliable vehicle are necessities. Volunteers must complete an application and submit to background checks.
During her time as a Community Health Nurse, Connie saw many young single moms come from broken homes where drug and alcohol abuse were prevalent and domestic abuse quite often the norm. The young teens left that atmosphere and found themselves in similar situations because that was the only way of life they knew. She then saw the babies of these young women growing up in similar situations and the cycle began again. She wanted to stop the insanity, as Susan Powder used to say.
A project of this magnitude does not happen overnight and it has taken the CHLOE faithful ten long years to come to this point. Some might say that breaking the cycle of poverty is impossible but Connie would disagree with you. Poverty has been called a vicious cycle because it is an entire mindset, way of life, and culture. Connie plans to attack this problem with love, patience, and education. I have no doubt she will eventually achieve this goal because a less dedicated person would not have spent ten years of her life overcoming impossible odds and disappointments. A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step and Connie has taken many, many steps. She is well into her journey and the finish line of seeing CHLOE’S moms will soon become a reality.
I ask you to help Connie celebrate life and this achievement by getting involved. For more information or to help in this worthy project please follow the links below.