New Life Beginnings
Published: Monday, April 2, 2012
Updated: Monday, April 2, 2012 16:04
Rebecca Young, founder of New Life Beginnings in Long Beach, takes a picture of Laura and her six children. “One, two, three…” said Rebecca, and the kids chimed “Jesus!” in replace of “Cheese.” The kids are visiting for her birthday. NLB is fighting hard to get them out of foster care and into the program with their mother. Rebecca walks them outside and watches Laura say goodbye to her kids before they are driven away. There are long hugs and tears.
New Life Beginnings, a non-profit, non-government funded homeless shelter for pregnant mothers and their children, is located in downtown Long Beach off 6th and Olive Street. The building stretches a few blocks and is three stories high. The mothers inhabited in NLB seek refuge from their hardships to make a better life for themselves and their children.
“I hope we can get them (the kids) here,” said Rebecca. “The courts decide next week. We’re all praying it goes well. It’s incredible what she has gone through. Now that she’s (the mother) safe here I can’t see any reason why they would reject us.”
Laura comes back inside and Rebecca gives her a hug. “It’ll be fine. Chin up now, it’s your birthday!” Laura manages to smile and walks into the kitchen.
Founders Rebecca Young and Bonnie Beardslee have harnessed thousands of pregnant mothers since their opening in 1984 and have seen them grow into independent and responsible adults capable of supporting their own children.
In the kitchen, three live-in mothers are cooking dinner, and one of them is baking a birthday cake for Laura, a long time live-in mother. A baby lies in a cradle asleep in the corner as they cook.
“The kids aren’t allowed into the kitchen, but if the mother is keeping an eye on their child, they are allowed to be inside,” said Rebecca.
She walks over to the counter where a mother is baking.
“We call her the queen of burning cakes.”
The mothers laugh.
Cooking is a daily task for the live-in mothers. They are up at 6 a.m. and make breakfast for themselves and their children. The women usually take turns cooking for the families, meanwhile building friendships and teamwork. After breakfast, they have three hours of chores. Until dinner, which they also prepare themselves, the woman engage in either school, job training, in-house classes, or volunteer work. After dinner, the women are able to hang out and get some much-needed rest.
“They have to work for their stay here. We are loving, but of course tough as well. If the women here can’t follow the rules, they are asked to leave. All the women that have completed the program wouldn’t have had it any other way,” explained Rebecca.
Upstairs a handful of toddlers are playing around in the kid’s room. Children’s books, board games, and toys are scattered throughout the room. One little boy is riding around the carpet in a toy car. A volunteer is supervising them. Volunteering is what sustains NLB. Aside from helping at various functions, the mothers, and especially the children, interact with the volunteers, providing a positive influence over them. Over 15,000 volunteers donate over 22,000 hours annually to NLB.