( ENSPIRE She Did That ) Nonprofit Transforms Family Futures and Communities by Aiding Young Mothers in Their Transition Into Parenthood
ENSPIRE Contributor: Natalie Wong
Samora Coles is the founder and executive director of “The Alex House Project,” a nonprofit grassroots organization, that supports pregnant and parenting young mothers who reside in economically depressed neighborhoods in New York City.
Coles’s story is just one of many struggling mothers around the world. At the age of 17, Coles became a single mom. With no support system, she realized she was clueless about being a parent and raised her son, Alex, on her own. When she was presented an opportunity by a local neighborhood-based non-profit to create a flyer for a support group for teen moms, the idea for “The Alex House Project” was born.
The response to the flyer was overwhelming. Coles officially founded “The Alex House Project” in her neighborhood of Red Hook, Brooklyn. The organization’s key aims are to provide a safe and caring environment for pregnant women, young mothers, fathers, and children directly affected by poverty and racism using holistic approaches. The organization is all-inclusive and opens its doors to homeless youth, LGBTQ youth, young people in new immigrant communities, and parenting youth in foster care. Under her leadership, Coles has developed structured programs and workshops that foster parenting skills, including alternatives to discipline, cooking classes, housing, education & employment support services, and even yoga classes. Coles’s holistic approach extends beyond providing workshops and education, as it is just as important for young mothers and participants to feel comfortable forming communities to share experiences.
“We are emotional workers—we deal with the heart,” said Coles in an interview with AOL In the Know about the young mothers who seek help. “We deal with their issues, their everyday living, and we work with them to walk through the transitions of parenting.”
With over a decade’s worth of youth work and women’s health experience as the former Reproductive Health Coordinator at Red Hook Initiative and educator at Harlem Children’s Zone, Samora continues to broaden her ambitions with The Alex House Project. The organization has moved from Red Hook, Brooklyn, to a more accessible space in downtown Brooklyn and is currently fundraising to acquire its own space to offer more programs and provide temporary housing. Even with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Samora has converted the program to a virtual platform and was able to reach young parents as far as Virginia. Most recently, The Alex House Project has partnered with a local organization in South Africa to create The Alex House Project South Africa, for the first time reaching young mothers of color outside of the US.
The Alex House Project’s commitment to empowering young mothers gives back to the local and global community is crucial and real ways. Samora’s empathy and personal story resonates with those in need but also inspires others to make a change themselves.
For more information about “The Alex House Project,” please visit alexhouseproject.org.