URBANA, Ill. (WCIA) — Becoming a teen mom can be a frightening experience and sometimes even a lonely one. But Young Life of Champaign County has a ministry committed to providing them support and comfort.

The ministry, Young Lives, wanted to demonstrate how appreciated teen moms are in our communities. So they held a Friendsgiving at Hudson Farm in Urbana for 40 teen moms to attend with their families.

One of those mothers, Avenus Isom, had her daughter at 15. But she credits Young Lives for giving her the courage and confidence to give her now six-year-old a life she didn’t have herself.

“I was going down the wrong path. They introduced me to God, they make sure you’re into God. They help us with Thanksgiving, with meals, with family, with everything. I don’t know what I would do without them.”

Young Life is a global organization but locally it has served families for 13 years. Last week’s Friendsgiving was just one example of the efforts they make to ensure teen moms never feel alone. An opportunity that Young Life Director, Erin Watson, is proud to lead.

“Teen moms play a double role in motherhood. They are juggling high school and also being a mother. I know from my own personal experience being a mother in itself is a challenge. So we just want to lift these girls up to tell them they can achieve any goal they set their mind to and love them through that.”

Watson also shared that she’s honored to reach so many with the help of other positive women in the community. 40 Thanksgiving baskets, which were given to the 40 teen moms at the Friendsgiving, were created by Nicole Gorman. She’s the owner of Above Able and it was her team that made the baskets.

“In the baskets are all the fixings for a thanksgiving dinner as well as a crockpot or air-fryer to really empower these moms to make more meals at home for their families.”

Gorman and Watson met and began their partnership through attending the same church. A moment that Gorman says compelled her to do more as a business owner and reach out to those women in need.

“Just through my experience with young lives I’ve seen these ladies who are amazing moms so resilient and able to do it all. That’s our theme throughout above able. We are for the women that do it all. These ladies go to school, they’re moms, they work. We’re so proud of them and proud that we get to be apart of their lives.”

To learn more about Young Life of Champaign County and Young Lives, click here.