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Meet Dianna Smiley of Generation Her

Today we’d like to introduce you to Dianna Smiley.

Dianna, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
My childhood friend became pregnant in high school and I saw her experience as a young mother. In high school I knew one day I wanted to work with and serve teen moms. Fast forward 10 years, I graduated college and was in my career yet my passion and heart for teen moms was still there and growing. So, I knew in 2009, it was time to create a safe, loving and empowering program for teen moms. I had been working with a small group of teen moms at my church and from that experience I was able to gain the knowledge of what exactly a young mom needed on a daily basis and in the future, emotionally and the daily physical necessities to take care of a child. I created one Generation Her program in March of 2010 and it took off. It was amazing to see my vision come to life and to actually see the program working and changing lives and futures. A few months later we started a second location, then a 3rd and now we are at 6 locations and still growing. We are able to serve around 70 moms a month and almost 700 since that launch of that first location.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
It has honestly been a smooth road. God has always provided what the program needs in terms of volunteers and money to serve our moms and their children. We gradually continue to grow and learn how to make our program more successful for the moms we serve.

Please tell us about Generation Her.
Generation Her is a non-profit organization operating in southern California, that seeks to empower teenage mothers, ages 13-23, and their children by connecting them to a supportive community of other teen mothers and adult mentors, equipping them with desired life skills, and, ultimately, impacting their future in a positive way.

Created from a lack of existing services for teen moms and pregnant teens, we wanted to give teen moms a positive place where they felt loved instead of judged.

We offer a weekly life skills program for teen mothers and pregnant teens at our 6 locations throughout Los Angeles and Orange County. Generation Her encourages setting educational and career goals for each teen mom that we work with and walks beside her to accomplish her goals as well as to provide a safe place of encouragement, hope and support through mentors and their fellow community of teenage mothers. Generation Her encourages independence through teaching life skill classes such as; budgeting, money management, job interviewing skills, resume building, cooking, self-defense, nutrition, stress and anger management, relationship workshops and so much more. Generation Her is not only changing lives in the world of teen moms, it is also changing the community. The impact of a girl who will not stay on welfare throughout her lifetime and who is going to give her and her child a brighter future leads to a better economy and society.

At each program a mom attends she will learn a new life skill, meet with a mentor and support group and get some free baby items. We are able to provide the moms with diapers, baby clothing, blankets, wipes and other baby items. We find that if we can give them these items it allows them to stay in school and not drop out to get a job to pay for them.

Less than half OF TEEN MOMS NEVER GRADUATE HIGH SCHOOL, WHILE 97% OF GENERATION HER TEEN MOMS ARE GRADUATING. We are proud of this statistic. Our moms are empowered to graduated and live independently for a lifetime.

We serve these moms until they are 23 years old so that we can follow them through high school and college or a trade school. A mentor meets with them weekly to encourage them to stay on track with their career and educational goals.

We are one of the first of its kind in serving teen moms. Because of this we are trail blazing the path for new nonprofits who want to do what we do. I do a lot of consulting across America and even the world to help others create programs like ours so that teen moms everywhere can be served with the resources they need to have the future of their dreams. Generation Her cannot be everywhere but I love that other people can start their own program like it. Teen moms are such an under-served population, primarily because people don’t know how to serve them. They are past “at risk youth”, but they are not a lost cause as many make them feel like they are. We always tell our moms their life is not over; it’s just going to look different. With some hard work and someone who believes in them along with the motivation of their child they can and are becoming doctors, lawyers, realtors, nurses, etc. just like their peers who do not have a child.

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