Most students relish the freedom which is suddenly presented to them at university. For many, this is the first time they have lived away from their parents. Some will use that freedom more than others – and, with sexual misadventures rife at college, it is par for the course that unplanned pregnancies occur.
And it is not always easy for new, young parents to cope with the demands of being a parent and a student. A couple in Auburn, Alabama have dedicated the last 15 years to helping those who find themselves struggling with this huge life change.
Matt and Michelle Shultz run Baby Steps a not-for-profit (NFP) organization helping teens and college students “have their baby and their education”.
Nonprofit 'Baby Steps' offers support to university students with unexpected pregnancies https://t.co/kttFKiutt4
— Opelika-Auburn News (@oanow) December 18, 2017
Michelle fell pregnant in college, and it was totally unexpected. The couple wanted to share their experience with others going through a similar situation and help them in some way.
Their services support Auburn University students who are coping with juggling unplanned parenthood and college.
“It’s just an unrecognized population of women and men that are finding themselves in unplanned pregnancies that need help so they can get their education,” Michelle Shultz told OA Now. “We just wanted to allow an avenue that would allow them to not feel so trapped, so they can have their baby and have their education.”
Let’s dispel despair and judgment with true hope and empathy! Auburn, Baby Steps supports you. Rt to spread the word!! All deserve love 💕 pic.twitter.com/0Dh5d9RpmT
— Maggie Smith (@MaggieSmithhh) October 26, 2017
The couple provide support in numerous ways. From simple tutoring, all the way to a year’s free rent. They also help with childcare, serve meals and provide other support when needed.
The mothers and fathers can live rent-free for up to a year in the organization’s rented five-bedroom house, situated close to the university.
Sarah Hirschseldt lives and works full-time in the house, supporting and assisting the parents.
The home opened officially in September. This term it has opened its doors for the first time to student mothers and fathers who were in need of housing.
“They could walk in right now and live there,” said Shultz.
— Biking For Babies (@BikingforBabies) December 21, 2015
The students must be full-time at Auburn University and be over 18. They must be pregnant or have a new baby under one year old.
As the baby nears his or her first birthday the Shultzes and Hirschseldt will help to rehome them.
The organization is searching and hoping to find a more permanent home to buy for the young parent-students.