Kornerstone's Teen Moms Program has received a $15,000 Mercy Caritas grant from the Sisters of Mercy Health System.
The funds will be used to provide local teen mothers with the opportunity to receive early prenatal healthcare, attend childbirth classes and learn positive parenting and infant care skills through personal and group visits.
"This generous grant from Mercy will enable us to expand advocacy for teenage girls who are becoming parents," said Marlene Whitham, Kornerstone director. "We are thrilled. This will help us get started on an expansion of services that has been our goal for some time."
The Teen Moms program encourages students to continue their education. Some choose to pursue a GED and others take part in college courses after graduating high school.
Kornerstone also offers the Stork Store at its facility in Shell Knob. Teen moms earn points by attending school, GED classes, doctor visits, group meetings and other activities. The points can be used to purchase baby items and supplies from the Stork Store.
"We operate almost entirely on local donations," said Whitham. "Other funds are collected through fundraisers."
In 2009, in an effort to decrease transportation costs, the Teen Moms Program began meeting with area teenagers at the Barry County Health Department in Cassville each Thursday.
This year, Kornerstone hopes to begin meeting with northern Barry County teens at the health department office in Monett. The organization is also working with the Monett R-1 School District and Monett area churches to schedule family nights for teens living in the northern portion of the county.
"Kornerstone's Teen Moms Program has become known for providing a 'new model of care' for pregnant teens," said Whitham. "There are no other programs in this area that provide quite the same service and empower teens to deliver healthy babies."
The Teen Moms Program currently serves 28 local teens. With the Mercy grant funds, Kornerstone hopes to be able to serve an additional 10 to 12 teens each year.
In addition to offering prenatal education throughout each teen's pregnancy and transportation to medical appointments, the Teen Moms Program offers education after each teen delivers their baby. The program partners with Parents As Teachers to provide parenting support for teens during the first few years of each child's life.
"This is a gift to serve those who are economically poor and to work for change on their behalf," said Lynn Britton, Mercy president and chief executive officer. "We have a 200-year heritage of caring for impoverished women, children and the sick going back to Dublin, Ireland. This is about Mercy supporting the communities we serve."
The Sisters of Mercy awarded $600,000 in grants to nearly two dozen community programs this year. Other programs receiving grant funds were located in Berryville, Ark., Lebanon and Springfield.
Teen moms interested in receiving assistance through the Kornerstone program should call the organization's office in Shell Knob at 417-858-2887. Individuals interested in supporting the program can call the Kornerstone office or visit kornerstoneinc.org.