Ferlanda Kells first learned about DRU/Mondawmin Healthy Families while at her church, Union Baptist, in West Baltimore.
“I was actually talking to Barbara Hughes [who is the founder of DRUM] before she retired,” Ferlanda explains.
The 20-year-old told Hughes that she was pregnant and struggling to pay for some necessary items like a crib.
“Ms. Barbara said that DRUM could help and she set me up with an assessment and I’ve been in the program ever since,” Ferlanda says.
Four years later--DRUM has provided a crib and so much more for her now 3-year-old son Dominic and 1-year-old Dillion.
She says she was excited for the support during those difficult times.
“Me and their father were behind on rent; bills were hard,” Ferlanda reflects. “I wasn’t working and then I had another baby. I just didn’t have the funds, but [DRUM] helped me out with pampers, clothes-- I really didn’t have to buy anything. They helped me with everything I can think of.”
DRUM even helped her mentally and emotionally, she says.
Ferlanda’s family support worker, Natasha Foreman, visits her at home monthly.
“She listens to me,” Ferlanda says. “She’s very knowledgeable of a lot of things and she can also relate to these situations because she’s been there. It’s not like I’m talking to a brick wall. And the fact that I didn’t have to travel to her is really helpful.”
Natasha says Ferlanda’s life experiences have been like a “rollercoaster,” but she calls the young mom resilient.
“I’ll come see her and she tells me she has a goal like finishing school and the next time I see her a month later, she’s already wrapping up school,” Natasha says. “Ferlanda has always been fighting forward to do the best for her and her children, and she has grown a great deal from getting out of unhealthy relationships to stepping out and becoming self-sufficient.”
Ferlanda says her sons are growing from their DRUM experience, too because they regularly interact with other children in the program during support meetings.
“My 3-year-old was not social at all, but upon attending the groups he became a lot friendlier,” she adds with a chuckle. “Now Dillion, my youngest, he is always happy. But it’s good that he is around kids that he can call his friends. And the moms are supportive of each other. It’s not just about the staff.”
The young mom is stronger and more stable these days. She recently started a job at a call center.
“I would tell other new moms to not be afraid to ask for help because I was at first, and I know that will get you nowhere,” she says. “Being a young mom, you need support.”
This is where we share the stories of the families we've been honored to help nurture over the years.