ORANGE (CBSLA.com) — She’s known for being a supermodel.
In Orange Saturday, Kathy Ireland — the lifestyle expert and lighting designer — also inspired young teen moms.
CBS2’s Joy Benedict was there when Ireland hosted a gathering for young moms who need a little extra support and helping hand.
“You are so valuable and so loved and we want the best for you today,” Ireland told the moms, about 30 in all.
It was a powerful message from someone who wants to help.
Jessica Gonzalez, 18, was inspired by Ireland’s “Mentor Tea” (held at the North Orange Christian Church).
“I feel guilty having to go to work but when I’m in school I just think this is for her,” said Gonzalez about her four month old daughter, Jayleen.
Gonzalez got pregnant when she was just 17 and in her senior year of high school.
“That was my biggest fear,” she said, “not graduating from high school because I was pregnant.”
“These girls are amazing,” Ireland told Benedict.
The program is in its 20th year. It matches teen moms with career-oriented women. The group matches teens who might find it easy to get unfocused as they tackle the demands of being young mothers.
It’s about strong women helping strong girls.
“I’m inspired by their courage,” Ireland said, “they’re heroes and choosing to give their children life is not an easy path.”
Gonzalez didn’t tell anyone she was pregnant until she was almost eight months along.
“Once I heard her heartbeat and I saw the ultrasound, I gave in quickly and said this is my baby and no one will ever take her away,” Gonzalez said.
In addition to being matched with a mentor, the young women attend several workshops on preventing child abuse, time management, the demands of school and home.
Gonzalez’ biggest fear was not finishing school but with the help of the program, she not only graduated she’s been working at a pre-school and is enrolled at Fullerton College.
“I need to finish college, shes my biggest motivation,” Gonzalez said about Jayleen, “I want a better future for her.”