Background Information From Ripley, West Virginia
Where the HYMS Program Originated - 1994
The program began when J. Nelson Parker, Program Director of the Adolescent Health Initiative, heard Mari Hash speak about her assignment as teacher for the pregnant and parenting students in the two county high schools. She explained the daily struggles the students face in finishing school. Many teachers dip into their own pockets to purchase small items to help struggling students. Nelson, who had been a member of local civic groups, realized that many local groups would like to help if arrangements could be worked out to handle the money at the local level, to help students in the local schools, and to purchase items from the local merchants. Since both Nelson and Mari attended the Epworth United Methodist Church, the minister-former Charles Echols was asked to join the planning of the program. After some discussion over coffee, the next step was to go to the school system for their support. Since the program did not require funding or administrative time from the school system, they were very receptive.
The original funding ($200) came from the Compassion Fund of the Epworth United Methodist Church, who also became the fiscal agent for the program. An additional ($100) came from the local Lions Club after Nelson made a supper presentation.
One student had a date, so she asked her younger sister to baby-sit with her son. The sister used so many diapers that the student could not make it to the next weekend. She told Mari about it, so Mari wrote her a voucher to a local grocery store for a box of Pampers. The student took the voucher to the store, purchased the Pampers, and went home to take care of her baby.
A student was about to graduate, but she could not pay for a hair cut. She had red curly hair and thought she looked like RONALD MCDONALD. Mari called her hair stylist and arranged for a $10 hair cut. The student took the voucher to the stylist, got a good hair cut, and later graduated feeling very pleased about how she looked.
A student took her sick, croupy baby to the doctor. The doctor gave her a prescription and told her to get a humidifier. The student knew Medicaid would pay for the appointment and the prescription, but not for the humidifier. She was not even sure she knew what a humidifier was or how to use it. She did know she was scared for her baby. She told Mari, who called the store for the price and wrote out a voucher. The student took the voucher to Wal-Mart, purchased the humidifier, and went home to take care of her baby.
A pregnant student was able to borrow maternity clothes, but not maternity underwear or shoes to fit her swelling feet. Mari wrote several small vouchers to help her stay in school and graduate.
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