In the spirit of the upcoming Thanksgiving Day holiday, the women’s ministry at the Garden of Prayer Christian Church in East Baltimore recently donated more than $1,000 in baby shower gifts to a group of current mothers and mothers-to-be who reside at a west Baltimore transitional house in an alternative program for troubled women.

On Nov. 11, Chrysalis House Healthy Start welcomed more than 40 women from the church’s congregation to their living quarters to help young women at the home prepare to provide for and raise a baby.

The women’s ministry filled the Healthy Start play center with dozens of clothes, diapers and bottles to help the women in need.

“This is more a blessing for us than it is for them,” Rev. Brenda McLean-Tuggle told the AFRO. “A lot of women have come to us and said that no one has ever done anything like this for us.”

Taylor King, 22, was alone and had no one to which she could turn. So, like many women at the transitional house, she turned to drugs, and the streets for a sense of identity and pleasure.

“Being in the program has molded my mind,” she said. “My story isn’t any different from any girl growing up in Baltimore city.”

King said she knew she was headed in the wrong direction by the age of 16. In her late teens King was offered a recurring role on the fourth season of the HBO series “The Wire,” resulting in a windfall of more money than she knew what to do with.

“I was introduced to sex at a young age, I was raped, molested… struggles,” she said. “But because of this program I have the tools now not to soak in the misery.”

King was facing jail time, but programs like Chrysalis saved her from being incarcerated.

“Women were being incarcerated for non-violent crimes, dealing with prostitution, addiction, selling drugs, thefts and they happen to be pregnant,” Chrysalis Director Debra Tribble said.

If a woman was incarcerated or on the verge of serving jail time, Tribble said, the mental health and criminal court systems involved the Chrysalis program to provide women a place to go in lieu of going to jail.

“We are known as a state-wide diagnostic and transitional program,” she said. “If they are pregnant and are willing to make a voluntary commitment to the program, and the judge is willing to release them then they can come here.”

The year-long women’s program is highly structured with workshops offered throughout the day on parenting, group activities and workforce development.

King has a three-year-old son and said she wants all the help she can get from the program “to get her life together.”

Over the last five years, Tuggle said she has seen a number of women enter and leave the program and she and her church are always willing to help.

“It blesses us to give to somebody else who is in need. Somebody who may not have been as fortunate as you have been,” she said.

She said they are always looking for groups in the community that may need assistance. “It blesses us.”

Blair Adams

AFRO Staff Writer