BOZEMAN — A major transformation is ahead for a Bozeman non-profit so that it can help transform the lives of even more local children and families.
Thrive will soon move from their downtown Bozeman location to the former site of the Red Chair restaurant building on Ferguson Ave., but before they can do that they are asking for the community’s help. Thrive is working to raise funds to renovate the space to better meet the needs of the families that will come to them for classes and support.
One Bozeman woman shared her story, growing with Thrive over more than a decade. She says she’s excited to see Thrive expand, and hopes other families like her own will be brave enough to reach out.
”I was pregnant at a certain young age,” recalls Aleah Corona. “I was pregnant in high school.”
Fifteen years old. Pregnant. Terrified. Aleah Corona remembers the feeling all too well.
“There were so many obstacles as a teen mom with school and relationships and then just having a baby in general and everything else after that,” said Aleah.
She didn’t know where to turn, but then a health care worker referred her to Thrive. She remembers she was quickly set up with an advocate, someone who would be there for her one on one. Immediately she says, things began to change.
“No matter what Thrive was there,” said Aleah. “If I was having a good day or a bad day she was there.”
Aleah says from personal support to programs for young mothers Thrive answered the call to help her with the big things and the little things too. From food and transportation to doctor’s visits and so much more. She said with her advocate by her side, she was able to transition from a teenage girl to a mother. She says it was a time when she had to grow up fast.
“I had to go through adult things,” said Aleah. “I had to go through court and things like that. It was scary.”
That was eleven years ago. She’s now a happily married mother of three. Besides her son she now has five-year-old twin girls. Aleah says if you fast forward through the decade you’ll see a Journey in which Thrive helped her family grow. She says they were able to get help with everything from how to process trauma to how to communicate better as a parent and as a wife.
“It’s just so beautiful knowing that there’s a group of ladies out there that could change people's lives and perspectives,” said Aleah.
Husband Robert agrees: “It’s a scary thing to get help from somebody,” said Robert. “But when you go to a place and it feels like it’s your family it’s something else.”
Aleah says she’s proud of how far she’s come. “Yes, yes it feels really nice,” said Aleah. “It feels nice to know my kids are getting the help they need.”
Now the organization wants to help even more families like the Coronas have a chance to thrive.
“With the partnership projects that happen with these young families, it is just amazing the strides they make and goals they accomplish,” said Thrive’s Vanessa Skelton. “Certainly with some of the challenges they are facing, and yet they are completely changing the trajectory of not only their own life but their child’s life as well.”
Skelton says financial gifts allowed them to buy the Red Chair building on Ferguson. Now they are working to raise $1.5 million dollars for renovations. The new location will include new learning labs for kids and classrooms for families, plus easier access to public transportation.
Thrive leaders hope to raise the funds by the end of the year and move from their location downtown to the new space in 2022.
“I think all non-profits dream of owning their own space and we’ve been in this building 36 years,” said Skelton.
As for the Coronas they say they are eternally grateful.
“We’ve come so far and I wouldn’t change anything for the world,” said Aleah. “I’m just glad we can go and have harmony In our family.”
They hope other moms and dads will be brave enough to reach out.
“We are always going to have struggles but it’s how you choose to handle them,” said Aleah. “I wouldn’t have known that If we didn’t start with Thrive. If it wasn’t for Thrive I don’t know if I could’ve done it without having that emotional support.
Thrive still needs to raise part of the $1.5 million needed for renovations. To find out more to go to A Place to Thrive | Thrive (allthrive.org)