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The Booth Program helps teen parents not choose between diapers and diplomas

Posted at 7:19 AM, Jun 06, 2024

COMMUNITY BABY SHOWER — The Booth Program has helped teen parents for 103 years. The Salvation Army in partnership with Cardinal Academy helps teens continue their education while providing needed skills and resources to parent.

  • Over 10,000 teen parents have benefited from this program.
  • The program uses an incentive store to help parents with needs like diapers, baby food, clothing, toys, and other needs.

(Below is the transcript from the broadcast story)

This is Serenity Chlarson and her 14-month-old daughter Brayleigh. The two love to play together, but for the single mom she says parenting had a lonely start.

“Like I felt like I was doing it on my own you know. Like I didn’t have that many support systems I guess,” said Chlarson.

Taking care of a toddler on top of school seemed impossible, but with the help of The Salvation Army’s Booth Program, in partnership with Cardinal Academy, Chlarson can now celebrate her recent graduation.

“I got to finish school which was super hard to do, but with this program I wouldn't have been able to do it without that,” said Chlarson.

“Being able to have her near me but also being able to focus on school has definitely helped so much,” she continued.

“The Booth Program has been around since 1921. We have served over 10,000 women and babies and dads now over the last 103 years and we are just so thankful for the support that we have received through the community over those years," said Lindsay Klein, director of development for The Salvation Army.

The program gives teen parents support in many ways from cooking classes to free childcare. There's also an incentive store where parents who participate class and life skill courses can earn 'Booth Bucks' to spend on needed everyday items.

"Having a system like that where it's not only helping you with diapers, wipes, expenses like that, but having people there who help with your mental health is definitely a major thing," said Chlarson.

Lindsay Klein has worked with The Salvation Army for over a decade and has seen the direct impact this program has on moms like Chlarson.

“I’ve seen students go onto college and become teachers and give back, I've seen them become administrative assistants, and I've seen them just really flourish and coming into their own person a lot stronger and a lot healthier than when they entered into this program,” said Klein.

Chlarson is one of those students getting a scholarship to the College of Western Idaho paying for her housing, groceries, clothes, and allowing her to fully dive into academics. Something she says she wouldn’t have without the Booth Program.

“Having something like this is once in a lifetime I feel like kind of experience, especially in my case because you know, like I am a teen parent and it's definitely hard,” said Chlarson.