Pregnant, homeless young woman: "Mary's Shelter helped me turn my life around"

STUART, Fla. - Tierney Mackey is 21 years old, and 28 weeks pregnant.

"I read to her every night, she likes it a lot," said Mackey, of communicating with her unborn baby. "She can hear me, because she starts kicking. Then, after I'm finished reading, she'll calm down."

The soon-to-be mother already has a name picked out for her baby girl: Zyah.

"I don't think anyone's really prepared for motherhood," said Mackey. "But I'm very excited, and I think I'm as ready as I'll be."

Mackey's been through some tough times as a former drug addict.

"I actually got into some trouble, and I was in jail," she recalled. "A few months after I got out, this (pregnancy) was a surprise."

Her father encouraged her to have an abortion, even going so far as to schedule the appointment, but she couldn't go through with it.

"I just couldn't see myself doing that," Mackey explained.

Mackey's mother contacted Mary's Shelter, a transitional home geared specifically for pregnant women. Now, she lives there full-time. Through the shelter, she's earned her GED, she's enrolled at Indian River State College and she just got a new job.

"I have a hindering background, but I always say I define my situation, I won't let my situation define me," Mackey said.

Gina Thompson, Executive Director of Mary's Shelter, said it is all about giving the residents support.  The shelter's motto is "saving lives, two at a time."

"We motivate them and keep them on track, and we're there every day, which means a lot," said Thompson. "Some of these girls haven't had anybody there."

As for Mackey, she didn't know how to change a diaper when she first moved in. Now, she's ready to meet baby Zyah, and she feels up to the challenge.

"Giving me light at the end of the tunnel," said Mackey. "I'm just so excited to be the best mom I can be for her."

If you would like to help, please visit The Mary's Shelter website: http://www.maryssheltertc.org/

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