Heroic Grandmother Steps Into Motherhood Once More

Terry is a single mother a four who raised her children on Chicago’s west side where she has lived her whole life. By the time her kids were grown and out on their own, Terry thought her days of being a mother were behind her.

But when one of her daughters developed a substance abuse problem and Terry had to choose between losing her grandchildren to state custody, or taking guardianship herself, the choice was easy.

Of Terry’s six grandchildren, four were born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome, a group of conditions caused when a baby withdraws from certain drugs they’re exposed to in the womb before birth. In the early days of Terry’s guardianship over the children, she pushed, negotiated, and argued for her daughter to get clean in the hope that the children would eventually return home. Terry found a place for her, paid her rent, and even furnished her home. She tried her best to help her daughter get on her feet so that the kids would have a safe and comfortable place to return to.

Terry Howell and her six grandchildren at MSV's 2019 Mommy & Me Fashion Show.

But following another relapse, it was clear to Terry that her daughter would never be capable of maintaining a steady home environment for her children. “On too many days, I just cried,” said Terry. “Thankfully, work was really flexible with me in those early days, but I had to find child care—that was the most important thing.” For a few months Terry was on the waitlist to enroll the children at Marillac St. Vincent when she finally got the call. “Oh it was such a blessing!”

With your support Terry’s grandchildren have been in a safe, loving early learning and after school environment at Marillac Social Center for over five years now and maintained her work hours as a home health aid. “I even got a car!” said Terry of the stability she’s enjoyed since enrolling the children.

Terry’s hope for her grandkids is that they carry the love for learning they’ve developed at MSV with them for the rest of their lives, “I teach the children every day the importance of sticking together and loving one another – and never doubt what God can do for you.”

When you give to Marillac St. Vincent Family Services, you form a connection with people like Terry. As Terry puts it, “They’re like my own personal guardian angels!” Thank you for making a difference in Terry’s life and for the impact you’re having on countless others.

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