BOISE, Idaho — For the past 15 years, the Community Baby Shower has helped thousands of local babies get the best possible start in life, and this year is no different. We go inside an organization that has gone through a major change in the last year, but the Booth mission to educate pregnant and parenting teenagers has never been stronger.
After moving from California in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, 18-year-old Raylynn needed support. She found it at the Salvation Army's Booth Campus, where she and 17 other teen parents have continued to work toward their high school diploma.
"They don't feel alone, they feel encouraged," said Major Kimberly Stambaugh of the Boise Salvation Army. "And they know that they can make it and get through their high school education and go on to a lifetime career and building a foundation for them and their little family."
The Boise Booth Program dates back a century, but this is the first year at a brand new, state-of-the-art facility, and the program is seeing growth. Starting in the fall, the Salvation Army will partner with charter school Cardinal Academy to offer in-person classes for up to 120 pregnant and parenting teenagers from all over the Treasure Valley.
In addition, the new campus offers a childcare center, medical clinic, counseling services and a food pantry.
"It's all going to be here to support our young parents to be able to finish," said Deborah Hedden-Nicely, a teacher at the Booth Program. "We're just going to get them over the hump and then they are going to take off from there."
The incentive store, which is filled with your donations from our annual Community Baby Shower remains a staple for these young parents. They collect "Booth Bucks" by attending classes and participating in healthy activities and can spend their earnings on anything they need.
"I think this is a cornerstone of our program, because not only do the students need these incentives, but the students feel the community's support," said Danielle Hansen of the Boise Salvation Army.
Raylynn says it's not easy being a young, single mom, but the encouragement and community she's experienced at Booth allow her to be herself.
"For teen moms who are ashamed, I'd say get over yourself because you need to be the best person you can be for your child," said Raylynn.
That's exactly what the Boise Salvation Army is doing, helping young parents be their best and by doing so, raising up the next two generations.
This year, you can buy or drop off new baby supplies at any Albertsons store in the Treasure Valley on June 9. But you don't have to wait until then, you can click here and donate now. You can also text the word BABY to 345345.
Albertsons will be matching the first $15,000 we raise, so join us in person on June 9 or online right now the help support the youngest members of our community.