Lifted by Love is celebrating its fifth anniversary on August 7 with the 2nd Annual Back to School Birthday Bash event at the West Houma Recreation Center from 12:00 p.m.- 4:00 p.m.
The nonprofit organization was started when founder Amanda Oden and co-founder Carl Cavalier saw a need in the community for teen mothers who lacked resources and education. Oden said she turned her passion for social work into purpose-giving back to the community in the best way she knew how. Forty percent of teen mothers experience abandonment and homelessness during their pregnancy. It was these situations that tugged at the founders’ hearts to do more for the community. They are dedicated to helping teen mothers keep their babies and help prevent future cycles of neglect and abuse. “We believe that life is fragile and by assisting teen mothers during their transition to motherhood will help ease burdens of stress and frustration that can be taken out on their newborn children, ultimately causing cycles of abuse and/or neglect.”
Over the past five years, Oden said she is most proud of the outreach she has seen and being able to acquire awareness out to the community so the public can know what the organization stands for to help the organization’s residents. Although the job comes with many rewards, Oden said the most challenging aspect is gaining funding and trying to gain community awareness. She said it is tough sometimes because although people do know the organization’s mission, they view it as promoting teen pregnancy. “We’re not promoting teen pregnancy, but we’re also not throwing them under the bus,” Oden explained. “We aim to prevent recurrent pregnancies for our teen moms. With love, we have to conquer it all. We used to have the quote ‘Life happens, with love we can conquer it’ next to our logo just because life happens and things happen outside of our control. Are we going to keep ‘beating a dead horse’, or are we going to actually do something about it?”
Oden said her message to herself has always been to keep going, “When I started out, I thought we were going to get all these donations, and we would start rolling. But it definitely didn’t turn out that way. But I kept telling myself to just keep going.” Going forward, Oden said her goals are to raise more community awareness, raise more funding, apply for more grants on a federal level, reach as many teen moms as they can that are in the foster care system, build more community partnerships, and raise more awareness so people are educated enough to know the struggle of children having children that are in foster care. “It’s one struggle to be in foster care and to experience homelessness,” Oden expressed, “but then it’s another struggle to have to rear a child through these unfortunate circumstances.”
The organization was established on August 30 of 2016. Oden knew from the beginning she wanted to have an event where baby items were given to the community and to celebrate the organization’s anniversary. “But starting out, it was a struggle getting funding and donations so, we just couldn’t do it,” she said. They were able to put on the event in 2020, where they gave approximately 170 backpacks filled with supplies, socks, underwear, and tee shirts. They gave the backpacks in addition to a diaper giveaway which gives diapers, formula, wipes, milk, and food to those in need.
The 2nd Annual Back to School Birthday Bash will be at the West Houma Recreation Center located at 800 Williams Avenue in Houma. From noon to 4:00 p.m., the event will feature backpack giveaways, diaper giveaways, underclothes for ages preschool-12th grade, food, music, and snowballs. Children are encouraged to be present, and masks are required.