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Community Baby Shower: Booth Program for Young Parents helps teen moms continue their education

Posted at 11:09 AM, Jul 24, 2023

BOISE, Idaho — Our 17th annual Idaho News 6 Community Baby Shower suppply drive is coming up on July 26 and your generous donations help stock the shelves of five local non-profits working to help Treasure Valley families with young kids.

The Booth Program for Young Parents has been helping pregnant and parenting teens in the Treasure Valley for 100 years, making sure young parents don't have to choose between continuing their education or caring for their child.

"Nobody knows what to do when they first become a parent," 16-year-old Star Heidenreich said. "They just were really helpful and understanding and caring and it definitely helped me a lot not being at a normal high school."

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Heidenreich has a seven-month-old daughter and is getting ready to start her junior year. She says if it weren't for the Booth Program, she probably wouldn't still be in school. Now, she's on track to graduate early.

The all-inclusive Boise campus offers students meals, a full education, and specialty life skills courses touching on topics like prenatal health, parenting, and managing personal finances.

"They have jobs most of the time so, 'What is a checking account? What do I do with that? How do I open one?'" program coordinator Kim Kelzer says. "We have partnerships with credit unions and people who like to teach finance. We have a lot of community partnerships."

RELATED: Booth Program helps Treasure Valley teen parents

Students can earn "Booth Bucks" for showing up to class and participating in programs which they can then trade in for diapers, wipes, clothing, and an array of baby essentials.

"I personally use them for diapers and wipes and then I just stock up on her clothes, pajamas, day outfits, toys, headbands, socks, just everything that she needs," Heidenreich said. "And then I get stuff for myself like shirts and pants, shampoo and conditioner."

It offers teen parents a sense of independence, and with free on-site child care, they have peace of mind knowing they can focus on class with their baby being cared for. Parents can visit their child any time and nursing mothers can feed their baby throughout the day.

"I'll just say, 'Hey, can I go downstairs? can I bring the baby up?'" Heidenreich explained. "And I can bring the baby up here and just hang out but still be in class doing what I need to do."

"It's just amazing and awesome to see us all work together to make it so that a student doesn't have to make a decision between making a living and getting supplies, to getting up their education," Major Kimberly Stambaugh said. "So they get to keep their education, work through school, and know they have an opportunity to be provided with the basic needs of being a mom or a dad."

The program is life-changing for teen moms trying to complete their high school education while navigating the new world of parenthood.

"We're just kids, man," Heidenreich said. "We made big people decisions, but we're just kids and it helps a lot to not have to do it by ourselves."

Donations to our Community Baby Shower, help them stock their shelves full of diapers and wipes year-round and they tell us they are particularly in need of diapers and pull-ups in larger sizes. Coming up Wednesday, July 26th, you can donate at an Albertsons store near you or you can donate online now here.