By Kate Cusimano
The journey was only two steps across the doorsill that would bring me into a world I had not known existed. As a public health nurse working in NYC during the 1970s and 1980s I knocked on hundreds upon hundreds of doors in the tenement buildings of the South Bronx. When each door opened up and I stepped across the threshold I was never quite sure what I would discover on the other side. Sadly, I routinely encountered dysfunctional families, one parent households, drug and alcohol addiction, poverty, and teenage pregnancy.
My caseload included a large number of pregnant teens, some only 14 years old, and single mothers. The teenagers had no idea how to care for a newborn and most of the mothers were emotional babes themselves due to deprivation suffered in their own lives. I’d visit them after the baby was born to assess the health of the baby and instruct on neonatal care. These young mothers were so unprepared and had no idea how these completely dependent little infants were going to fit into their lives. They had made no plans and could not see beyond the next 24 hours. Often there was no wise grandmother around, no supportive big sister or helpful mentor to walk alongside them on a day to day basis. These young girls felt very alone.
When collecting information on initial visits to new mothers, I would gather data about pregnancy history. I can remember women reporting a prior abortion and as they articulated it I could see sorrow and guilt in some of their eyes. For many, those pregnancies came too early in their lives and they had no support and felt there was no other way but they were still feeling the pain and regret of their decision. And as they held the current newborn lovingly in their arms, I know it reminded them of the life they chose to terminate.
I wish there had been an Expect Hope in the Bronx back then so there would have been a place for these single young pregnant girls to live and receive the daily support and training they needed. They needed radical intervention to break the bondage of generational deprivation and poverty and the generational sin associated with it.
I am not currently living in NYC but I am still able to knock on hearts’ doors there. Although I cannot embrace these young women myself, I can touch them through my support of the Expect Hope ministry. I may not be able to live in the house with these residents, but I can enable those who can with my financial support. My husband Gary and I wholeheartedly support the mission of Expect Hope. We are co-laborers as we enable the hands and feet of this ministry. My roots will always be in NYC. As my husband and I pour into this ministry, I feel I am still watering those roots.
As followers of Christ, we must live our lives with an eternal perspective. Each life we embrace through Expect Hope impacts eternity. With the mission of Expect Hope we are not only impacting one generation for eternity, but two. There are moments in our lives that we can let the future in, and transform it by what we decide to do today.