The February 2019 issue of Summit West Magazine highlighted Grandma’s House. They do not publish online, so we are sharing the story in it’s entirety here:
Grandma’s House: Nurturing Resources for a Fragile Population
“I remember being a very scared unwanted, unloved, ashamed Native American whom at only 16 years of age was expecting her 1st child. One who came from a very hard upbringing, a broken home not once, but 4 times. Very unstable cycles… took a toll on my life to where I myself became unstable and not responsible. Ended up with an older boyfriend who was abusive, and became pregnant.”
In a recent letter to Grandma’s House, Alysia Aguliar Littleleaf, a former resident, tells a poignant story of her time as a resident there and beyond into her success as a mother, wife, and business owner. Grandma’s House is the only home of its kind east of the Cascades in Oregon, providing emergency and transitional shelter to young pregnant or parenting mothers who may be homeless or abused. Whether choosing adoption or parenting Grandma’s House offers support at a time when the need is greatest.
With her mother in jail and her father gone, Alysia found herself in a group home with children and infants whose parents had also lost custody. As her pregnancy progressed, they sent her to Grandma’s House in Bend. Scared and unsure of moving from the group home into a shelter, Alysia writes about her arrival:
“I had no clue that Woody & the staff there at Grandma’s House would be so welcoming nurturing and would care about me. They were so nice and soft-spoken and didn’t have those eyes full of judgment nor disgust. They helped me get back into school, get financial support, maternity clothes, and prepare for my baby. For I had no idea how to do anything, I was so clueless. So scared.”
For over twenty years Grandma’s House has provided 24/7 hope, support, tools, and education to help young parents make good life decisions and become self-sufficient. They emphasize wellness and healthy development of children and families through education, guidance, and support. They offer case management, counseling, and educational opportunities, and workshops include childbirth education and skills for living.
When young mothers and babies transition from Grandma’s House into independent living they become a part of an outreach program called ‘Angels Wing’. There they continue to receive support and services. ‘Angels Wing’ is a part of their outreach to all pregnant and parenting teens in need.
With over two decades of helping young women and their babies, many of those who spent their first months of life in the Grandma’s House are now adults to whom those decision-making skills have been passed down. Alysia’s son arrived 17 years ago and is now a strong student and interested in natural resources and fighting to protect the environment along with Alysia and her husband. She tells us about him:
“His biological father has made few attempts to talk to him. It’s for the better for him not to witness the vicious cycle of drugs/alcohol abuse. My son has knowledge of this and knows there can be no relationship until all that abuse stops, if ever. My husband and I have a small fishing guide service, Littleleaf Guides on the Warm Springs Reservation. He has been in training to be our future guide… he helps with kiddos when he can on fishing tours!”
“(My son) is a strong young native, proud of his heritage. He is active in all we are in opposition of in Water Protector. He is the 7th generation; our future, if you will… It’s our duty to teach and pass down the history of our people and the protection of our legacy. (My son) will pass this down to his children. We are a proud Native American family!”
Like so many of the young women who are a part of Grandma’s House family, this strong woman raising her son to make responsible choices and to defend the environment could have taken a very different path. Fortunately, for Alysia and so many others, Grandma’s House provides a safe haven and hope for this most fragile population. A chance to build a better future.
Written by Eva Gill, Marketing Creative for J Bar J Youth Services.