CINCINNATI -- One Cincinnati woman has turned what was once an obstacle into an opportunity to help others.
Rosemary Oglesby-Henry was 15 when she found out she was going to become a parent. She wasn’t the first teen parent in her family. Her grandmother, great-grandmother, sister and brother became parents as teens as well.
“After I had my daughter I kind of swore to myself there will not be another teen parent in my (family),” said Oglesby-Henry, founder and CEO of Rosemary’s Babies.
That was 20 years ago. Between Oglesby-Henry’s daughter, nieces and nephews, the trend of teen parenthood has not continued.
Her efforts didn’t stop with her family. She now offers education and support for teen parents through the nonprofit Rosemary’s Babies, which she founded in November.
While the organization is named for its founder, Oglesby-Henry is undaunted by associations with the similarly titled horror movie, “Rosemary’s Baby.”
“The name just kind of stuck because of the movie,” she said.
She sees the association in a positive light, drawing a parallel to young parents trying to do what’s best for their babies, similar to the film’s lead character “trying to protect her baby.”
“With Rosemary’s Babies, we’re trying to change stigma of how we talk about teen parents,” she said.
Rosemary’s Babies offers resources not typically available for pregnant teens, teen parents and parents of teens who are pregnant or have children. The nonprofit provides 24-hour guidance and emotional support via social media, dubbed “Confidant(e) Care."
Having experienced teen pregnancy and parenting firsthand, Oglesby-Henry recalls dealing with her parents’ anger and being ostracized by her peers at school.
“There was no support for what I had to deal with emotionally,” she said.
Teens also can get ongoing, in-depth support through the Rosemary’s Babies Leadership and Legacy program.
Members receive a personal tablet with access to learning resources and program curriculum designed help develop problem-solving skills, improve self-sufficiency and encourage post-secondary education.
To further encourage post-secondary education, Rosemary’s Babies also offers a $500 scholarship to two pregnant or parenting high school seniors each year.
Oglesby-Henry also aims to assist pregnant and parenting teens with common obstacles, like paying for driving school or providing a down payment to move into their own apartment.
In the past four months, the organization has served more than 100 individuals. Oglesby-Henry wants to serve even more, and she’s hoping a fundraiser this Sunday will help with that.
The nonprofit will host the Legends of Funk benefit concert March 26 at Woodward Theater. The event will start off with a catered dinner, followed by music performances by The Deele, Ed “Sax” Thomas, Aprina Johnson and The New Royals.
The organization’s mission hits close to home for many of those involved in the fundraiser. Dee and Kaio of The Deele and master of ceremonies Tyrone Dubose were teen dads.
“It’s actually the understanding of what we’re fundraising about,” said Dubose, who hosts TV One’s Unsung.
Former teen fathers have good reason to support Rosemary’s Babies. Unlike some organizations, which provide minimal, if any, support for teen dads, the services offered through Rosemary’s Babies are for all teen parents.
“A lot of dads have custody of their children, but they don’t get the same support,” Oglesby-Henry said. “A lot of times they’re lost in the shuffle because they’re an after thought.”
Oglesby-Henry’s efforts resonated beyond teen parents, too. As a child of a single parent and husband of a former single parent, Ayers Transportation Services owner Phil Ayers was so moved by the organization’s work, he offered to sponsor the event.
“It just really hit home for me,” he said.
Just as he overcame obstacles to start his own company, he hopes that Oglesby-Henry’s story and her organization’s work can show young parents they can be successful.
“I look at it as an example,” he said. “You don’t have to be a product of your environment.”
Tickets for Sunday’s event are $35 and can be purchased in advance by clicking here or by calling 513-813-8336. Tickets also will be available for $49.50 at the door.