Ebony Simmons has always been ambitious. She has dreamed of becoming a hair stylist, fashion designer, and baker.
Back in 2003, her dreams seemed too daunting as she raised three children while pregnant with a fourth. That was until she heard about DRU/Mondawmin Healthy Families at a school health fair. She quickly joined the program.
“It was very helpful having Ms. Linda Smith (DRUM family support worker) talk to me and really push me to pursue these things I wanted,” she says.
At the time, Ebony had dropped out of hair school because she was feeling overwhelmed at home.
“I was pregnant with my third when I started hair school and then when I found out I was pregnant again—it was too much,” Ebony says. “It seemed so difficult with these little ones.”
The encouragement from her DRUM family support worker prompted Ebony to give it another try. She graduated from hair school that May while nine months pregnant.
“It took me a lot longer to finish but I was so happy when I did,” she says. She recalls having to take a final test to finish the program. “The testing place wasn’t even on the bus line, but Ms. Linda said she was going to make sure I got to the test because I had come so far. She actually took me herself,” Ebony explains.
In 2007, she earned her associate degree in fashion design from Baltimore County Community College. She graduated with a 3.4 GPA.
“I remember my professor would always ask me how I do it all,” Ebony says. “It was crazy because I still managed to come to play groups at DRUM.”
She says DRUM's weekly playgroups are beneficial for her children.
“My youngest daughter would not go to anybody, but after six months, [DRUM support workers] told me to keep bringing her to improve her relationship skills,” Ebony says. “People might think playgroups are a small thing—but it’s not just about playing with toys. They are learning to interact with new people. They sing and practice activities that all contribute to their growth. I also love that they send the children home with books. I notice a huge difference in my daughter.”
Ebony says the support from DRUM helped her achieve even more than she thought was possible. She continued her education by earning a bachelor’s degree in business from the University of Baltimore in 2012. She is considering a master’s or a second bachelor’s in digital communications.
The training will serve her well for her side business—Ebony’s Baby Cakes. She bakes cakes and delectables for parties and other events. Cake pops are her specialty. Her love of cooking came from her grandmother.
“I’ve always loved dessert,” Ebony explains. “I started experimenting with cupcake flavors, giving them to friends, and then they started requesting them.”
Ebony is currently building a website for the business, and her hands are even more full at home. She now has five children and is caring for three of her nieces and nephews after her sister’s passing.
Ebony says she is never too busy to encourage other moms and refer them to DRUM.
“When I see somebody pregnant walking down the street, I give them DRUM’s number and encourage them to call,” she says. “I tell them to go there if they want to better their child and get encouragement. I will always support DRUM.”
This is where we share the stories of the families we've been honored to help nurture over the years.