She’s lived it, and now she gives back.
A former teen mom is lending a helping hand to young mothers with her resources. Don’t 4Get Me is a Brooklyn-based support organization for teenage mothers, created by its founder Simone Goss — who became a mother at the tender age of 15 years old. She started the program two years ago in her passionate mission to assist young women going through the struggle of being a young parent, and understanding their circumstance.
“I struggled and went through a lot like trying to finish my education, and depression, so I know how hard it is for girls like me,” she said.
Her organization provides mentorship and workshops by partnering with charities, shelters, and other support organizations that teen mothers in need often turn to. Through her programming, Goss organizes career and job interviewing events, basic life training classes, parenting courses, and community-oriented baby showers.
“We provide quite a bit, and that includes a lot of uplifting workshop we do, and offering classes that can help nurture the girls, with ongoing guidance,” said Goss.
As a single teen mother, Goss — who is now 36 years old — said motherhood in her youth was demanding, and growing up in foster care without a strong support system presented an additional problem. She said self-encouragement gave her daily strength to get through because she heavily relied on herself.
“Being in a foster care system is a challenge in itself, and I got to school everyday in rain, shine, sleet, or snow to make sure I wasn’t a statistic — because I did not have the support from my son’s father,” she said.
She added that her father was very vocal regarding his disappointment of her motherhood, and said his constant disapproval added on to her self-doubt. But that also motivated her to push herself harder to show him otherwise.
“My dad was livid with me when he found out I was pregnant, and he said ‘You’re going to be a statistic. You’re going to be like the girls in the neighborhood that have a bunch of babies,’” she said. “Those were his exact words, and I knew I had to prove him wrong.”
That journey began when Goss re-enrolled in school. She made the bi-borough trek between Brooklyn and Manhattan to get to her Harlem school from Flatbush for several years. Upon completing her high school diploma, she went to college. Eventually getting herself out of the statistics, she said one of her life goals was to help other mothers who may not have the same drive it took for her to manage a life for herself.
To date, Goss said about 25 mothers have received support from Don’t 4Get Me’s program and has seen the fruits of her labor through the success stories and testimonies from mothers who praise her efforts.
Aside from reaching out to shelters and centers such as the Covenant House for, Goss also seeks out teen mothers to help through social media campaigns. Once a week she leads a discussion that connects mothers on a series of topics using the hashtag #TopicTuesday.
Goss says if more people offered to support mothers rather than distancing or ignoring them, there would be a lot less struggling mothers. And they may earn some encouragement where they fail to get elsewhere.
“I really want people to not write them off. If you see a teen mom with her child or children — offer her words of encouragement and don’t just think she’s a promiscuous girl who didn’t listen to her parents,” she said. “Lend a helping hand because sometimes encouraging words can help someone go through the day. Don’t just forget about them — help where you can.”