Merle Davidson first heard about Goodwill of Central & Southern Indiana’s Nurse-Family PartnershipⓇ (NFP) from a friend who was enrolled in the program. At the time, Merle was pregnant with twin girls and was instructed that she’d need to be on bed rest at IU Methodist for the duration of her pregnancy. With Goodwill’s Nurse-Family Partnership providing a free, personal nurse that she could turn to for guidance, support and encouragement, Merle decided to enroll in the program; knowing that Nurse-Family Partnership would be a powerful ally for her and enable her to give her girls the best possible start in life.In early August 2019, Merle welcomed babies Mariana and Marleigh, but the girls had to spend their first several weeks in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at IU Methodist. Merle continued to visit her girls, often twice a day, providing the love, support and advocacy they needed to finally come home.
Though bringing home a new baby, especially twins, can be overwhelming, Merle met any and all challenges head-on. As a single mother, the support of her family, friends and her NFP Nurse Jodie Skinner made all the difference.
To support her family, Merle had been working in the restaurant industry until the pandemic surfaced last spring. Once the pandemic hit, like many others in the industry, Merle found her restaurant closed to the public leaving her with no hours and facing the reality of financial instability. One of her goals had always been to provide her girls with a stable source of income and Merle decided it was time to earn a degree and return to school.
“The idea was always in the back of my mind, and I don’t like to leave things unfinished,” said Merle. “These girls are watching what I do and they are also watching what I don’t do. I want to set a good example for them.”
Thanks to Goodwill’s Smith Family Funds, Merle was able to receive tuition assistance to cover the costs of her remaining classes. This tuition assistance allowed her to stay focused on finishing her degree, even in the face of the unknowns and employment setbacks brought on by the pandemic. While working full time and simultaneously parenting one-year-old twins, Merle graduated from Ivy Tech in December 2020, with a degree in general studies.
“Graduating from Ivy Tech meant a lot to me,” said Merle. “I have a five-year plan and a ten-year plan and each of them is broken down into steps I can achieve. It’s always a great sense of accomplishment when I get to check one of these steps off my list.”
Recently, Nurse Jodie connected her with TalentSource™, Goodwill’s job placement agency. TalentSource provides job placements, internship and externship opportunities and support services to Goodwill employees, students at The Excel Center and Indianapolis Metropolitan High School as well as to program participants and their families.
“What stands out to me about Merle is her drive for bettering herself and her children,” said DeAnna Warren, TalentSource Employment Specialist. “She’s been a pleasure to work with.”
Looking ahead, Merle says she would love to one day start a non-profit to support single mothers like herself.
“I know the struggles that I have had to walk through as a single mother, the stress and the mental toll it takes,” said Merle. “I would like to be able to provide resources for these moms, kind of like what NFP does, to help these moms become successful too.”