Chastin was 15 years old and pregnant when she first walked into the Dartmouth Family Centre. “I came in for prenatal and it taught me so much. It’s a big part of the parent I am today and why I was able to succeed at such a young age.”
In her prenatal class Chastin learned how to care for herself and her baby and she slowly built a circle of friends – other moms who shared experiences and provided emotional support. Eight years later, those connections are still going strong. “We’re still friends and it’s been great watching their families grow up.”
With the support of Family Centre staff and programming, Chastin was determined to return to high school after the birth of her first daughter Brooklynn. She graduated and over time set her sights on post-secondary education. “Family centre staff and the other moms really encouraged me and supported me through college. They really believed in me.”
Today the Family and Food Centres both play a regular role in Chastin’s family life and the lives of her three children. She and her daughters regularly participate in programs and attend family suppers as well as the weekly produce market.
Chastin spreads the word about the centre’s resources with other parents and she has learned how to advocate for herself and her kids.
Chastin, who sometimes struggles in social settings outside her home, says the family centre has always felt safe and comfortable. “You never leave feeling sad. You always feel like you learn and feel uplifted. It’s a great place to connect with other people and resources.”