Saturday, May 10, 2014

TOP STORY >> Teen moms left lasting impact

Leader staff writer

Nearly 150 guests at the Sherwood Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast on Tuesday prayed, listened to praise music and heard testimony from former Miss Arkansas Kristen Glover about how her life changed after accepting an unpaid internship with Promise House in 2009.

The Department of Human Services places the girls at Promise House, a Little Rock home for pregnant teenagers that is affiliated with the Arkansas Baptist State Convention.

Glover told the crowd she learned, “You don’t have to be perfect. You don’t have to be successful. You don’t have to have everything figured out to be a mentor. You just have to share your life and, when you do, I promise that you’re going to be blessed more than you’ll ever realize.”

The former Miss Arkansas recalled wearing a fake “pregnant belly” and bleaching toilets while mentoring six to seven pregnant teenagers, ages 12-18, for 10 weeks during the summer of 2009.

She also lived in the home with the girls.

Although Glover was crowned Miss Arkansas in 2011, she became discouraged after losing several preliminary pageants in 2009.

That’s when her parents suggested doing something different. That something different was working at Promise House.

Glover said, at first, she “didn’t really understand them or what they were going through or even where they came from.”

But Glover said she learned quickly after reading “A Framework for Understanding Poverty” by Ruby Payne and spending time with the girls at Promise House.

Glover told the crowd that, during the Miss Arkansas arrival ceremony she would have attended had she not lost the preliminary pageants, she was instead bleaching all the toilets and showers at Promise House.

Glover’s boss told her one of the girls had contracted a second sexually transmitted disease but had been treated for it and would be fine.

But, Glover’s boss explained, the girl’s shower and toilet needed to be bleached. And the other showers and toilets needed to be bleached too so that the other girls didn’t think something was wrong, her boss said.

Glover said it took her a week to do that job. The girls couldn’t do it because pregnant women shouldn’t inhale bleach fumes, she noted.

Glover said, “That above all is a reminder to me that when you open up your life and allow God to move, he’s going to bring you to a spot, where he’s going to teach you the most. And, like I said, I was there to mentor those girls, and I received so much from them in return. And I’m so thankful for the way that God broke me down to teach me who he is and that I was his.”

Glover also told the crowd, “Going out in public a few times, people looked at me kind of funny because here I was walking around with six very obviously pregnant teenagers.

She continued, “So I decided one day that I would buy a pregnant belly. And it was basically like this fancy pillow that you put under your shirt to give you a pregnant bump.

“So I would wear this from time to time when we were going out in public. And I would make comments very loudly that I had heard the other girls making comments about, like ‘Woo, I couldn’t sleep last night. This baby was just kicking me all night long.”’

Glover said the girls would laugh and giggle when she did this. “It’s just funny because they ended up really liking me, and I loved those girls too. But it was just funny because we came from opposite places. That was when I understood mentoring doesn’t have to be so much like a teacher-student setting. But sometimes it can just be sharing your life with someone else and opening up your life to someone else.

“We would just sit and talk sometimes, and they’d ask me questions, and I’d ask them questions. And we just shared our lives together,” Glover said.

Some of the questions the girls asked Glover were about boys. She said most of them didn’t know who the fathers of their babies were and didn’t expect them to be involved in the child’s life.

Glover told the girls that men would respect them if they respected themselves.

She also taught the girls to value education. Six out of 10 teen mothers don’t graduate from high school, Glover said.

But three of the 18-year-olds she mentored graduated from high school the year following her internship.

And, one time, Glover asked the girls how many people they knew who became pregnant before they were 18. Most of them listed four or five relatives and friends.

She said, “I would just pause and think, if this is the example that they had growing up, we shouldn’t really be surprised that they are in the situation that they’re in now.”
Glover then told the crowd about how the girls flocked to her mom when she visited Promise House. “It was obvious they craved that mother figure…and I loved sharing my mom with them,” the former Miss Arkansas said.

Glover also pointed out that there are several verses about mentoring in the Bible and the perfect example was Jesus, who mentored his 12 disciples by telling them to follow his example.

But not all of her talk was so serious. She had the crowd giggling when she talked about how she knew nothing about pregnancy before moving into Promise House.

On Glover’s first day, one of the residents went into labor.

She laughed as she said all she knew about labor was the “hee, hee, ooh” breathing shown in the movies. So that’s what Glover had the girl do until she was taken to the hospital. The baby was born healthy and the young mother was OK too.

Glover is enrolled in the pharmacy school at UAMS and will wed her fiancé in August.

Another highlight of the breakfast was Chopper Ward’s powerful singing voice. Ward is the music director at Rock City Harvest Church on Hwy. 107 in Sherwood.

And Mayor Virginia Hillman shared how residents saying that they were praying for her helped her get through many difficult times in office.

Circuit Court Judge Butch Hale III served as the master of ceremonies, welcoming guests and acknowledging the dignitaries who attended the event.

Pastor and Alderman Tim McMinn of Sylvan Hills Community Church, Pastor Hugh Yarbrough of Christian Assembly of God, Pastor Arthur Ward of Rock City Harvest Church, Guinn Massey of Massey and Wood CPA Group and Pastor Greg Clark of Sylvan Hills Church of Christ also participated.

Walt Barnhardt, David and Sherri Henry, Jason Akins, Karen Malmquist, Ricky and Tammy Carter and Alvin Finch volunteered to serve the breakfast.