Madam Speaker, recently I had the unique opportunity to attend an event in New York City with more than 650 people honoring a life giving operation for young women. In today's cold vast world it is very easy to feel isolated, alone, and forgotten especially if you are a pregnant teen or an expectant teen father. To many, Inwood House is a safe haven in their endless storm. The Inwood House offers housing, medical treatment, resources, and hope to today's otherwise lost teenagers.
The Inwood House was established as a Residence in 1830, to help pregnant girls in New York City rebuild their lives. The young girls were immigrants, alone, and some were exploited. And in those days single pregnant females were often just put in jail. The Inwood House became their savior by giving the girls a safe home, an encouraging community, and most importantly an education. With their newly acquired education the once outcasts of society were able to rejoin the working world with their employable skills. Since the early 1800's, the founders were vocal advocates for the lost youth. When the world wanted to send young unmarried pregnant teens to the penitentiary, the Inwood House stood up and fought for their freedom. They won Court approval to have the girls referred to the Inwood House, rather than being sent away only to be once again shunned by society. The founders believed that each girl was a gift and as a gift each had their own destiny, they simply needed someone to stand strong for them.
The Inwood House has continued its innovated vision. In the early 1900's, when the medical community was desperately trying to get the public aware of sexually transmitted diseases, the Inwood House tackled the issue head on. They conducted community outreach education on how to prevent sexually transmitted diseases. While providing on-going family support services to unwed mothers, the founders helped fund the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies. By accepting young women of all races and religions, the Inwood House defied the segregation of social services that was customary at the time.
They conducted community outreach education on how to prevent sexually transmitted diseases. While providing on-going family support services to unwed mothers, the founders helped fund the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies. By accepting young women of all races and religions, the Inwood House defied the segregation of social services that was customary at the time. Inwood House believes that the root of any solid society is a strong family. To enable young unwed mothers keep their babies, Inwood House raised private funds to create Mother/Baby foster family homes while creating the first City-sponsored program. The program showed great success in achieving self-sufficiency for the young mothers as well as avoiding repeat out-of-wedlock births. Inwood founders also believed in holding everyone responsible for their actions, including male teens.
Teen Choice, created by Inwood House, was the first comprehensive school-based education and counseling program to include boys. By dealing with both sides of the teenage pregnancy epidemic, it allowed awareness to be brought into an educational environment. Being the first to recognize the young unwed father as a potential resource for both the unwed mother and their unborn child, Fathers Count was created. Fathers Count is an educational program aimed to teach young fathers how to manage their parental responsibilities. When children have strong male role models in their lives, the cycle of abandonment is broken, leading both the children and the parents to lead a healthier life.
It was my pleasure, along with Governor Tom Ridge and others, to honor and hear positive successes for this outstanding program, its hard working staff, and the board members of the Inwood House. By providing supportive 24-hour care, support and guidance, including pre-natal care, education, parenting and life skills training, Inwood House is able to give hope for a better life. Wonderful board members such as Barbara Abadi and Linda Lausell Bryant, to just name a few, help to ensure that even today the Residence cares for homeless, pregnant teens in foster care, and continues to ensure that the Inwood House is internationally recognized as a leader and innovator in youth development, teen pregnancy prevention, and family support. Serving over 8,000 young people, Inwood House is able to be a beacon for the lost. It is my pleasure to honor and support such a life giving operation, and wish it continued success as it reaches and addresses the desperate needs of society's forgotten children.
And that is just the way it is.