MILWAUKEE - The Milwaukee area has one of the highest rates of teen pregnancy in the nation, but one woman is working to raise awareness and provide a safe space for young moms-to-be -- a mission shaped by her own experiences.
"We don't know their situations at home, so we really can't judge," said Jessica Currie, founder of Missionary Currie for Women and Children, Inc. "I really didn't have the support."
Currie's teenage years were met with challenges most children never face.
"At 16 and at 19, I experienced homelessness each time I got pregnant," she said.
Currie, however, was determined to rise above -- for herself and her family. After dropping out of school, she eventually went back, receiving her high school diploma from Milwaukee Area Technical College. Now, the mom of five is studying nonprofit management at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside. She also founded Missionary Currie for Women and Children, Inc.
Most recently, she's working to increase awareness around teen pregnancy.
"Pregnancy, parenting and prevention," said Currie.
According to the most recent data from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, in 2018, 3.8% of births statewide were to teen moms. In Milwaukee County, it rises to 6% and in the city of Milwaukee, it's 7.7%.
When comparing the teen birth percentage to other cities, a University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee professor of economic development said the Milwaukee area ranks ninth-highest among the nation's 50 largest metro areas.
"It's still a touchy subject for everyone," said Michelle Pena, who received help from Missionary Currie.
Missionary Currie for Women and Children, Inc.
Pena, who turned to Missionary Currie when she was expecting her son, now 1, is connecting others to the help she received.
"My niece is 15 years old, and she is due to have a baby boy any day," said Pena.
Currie provided her with diapers, baby supplies and clothes -- free of charge, but also offers hope to young moms and moms-to-be.
"Keep your head held high," said Currie. "God has a plan for absolutely everybody."
Currie is working with eight teenage clients, who are all expecting. Currently, she says her organization's greatest need is for car seat donations. To learn more, or to donate to Missionary Currie, click HERE or email firstname.lastname@example.org.