Gloria Lawrence, 25, founder and executive director of Esi’s House of Hope (Esi’s House), is a senior who attends Morgan State University. Esi’s House opened its doors on October 1, 2023, in Baltimore.
“Our community-based maternal group home is designed to provide shelter and support to homeless pregnant teens and [female] parents aged 18 to 24, along with their dependent children under the age of five,” Lawrence said, noting that three women and three children have already moved into Esi’s House.
Emma, 21, is a mother who said that the services she received at Esi’s House have been an amazing blessing.
“The support and care are unmatched,” she said. “I hope that anyone that is experiencing the situation that I’m in gets a chance to come across this beautiful experience that Esi’s House offers.”
Women and children who find their way through the doors of Esi’s House are given a “family-like” hand up.
“All of our residents are currently living in our home free of charge. As we continue to provide workforce development training and connect our residents to educational opportunities, we will help them put together a budget and provide services on a sliding scale based on what they can afford to contribute,” Lawrence noted, explaining that Esi’s House is a leased home.
The business administration major manages a full plate outside of school. It also includes working as a nonprofit development consultant and being a mother to a six-year-old son. Lawerence’s passion to support young mothers began after she had been attending college at a highly selective university in Washington, D.C.
“I excelled academically during my freshman year, but encountered a setback with my FAFSA application,” Lawrence said.
Based on her family’s financial information, Lawrence said that she was audited midway through the semester of an expensive, private university. After being denied financial aid, the student was left with a significant collection on her credit report.
Following expulsion, Lawrence became pregnant.
She added, “By 19, I was a teenage mother living in poverty, trying to find my first apartment, surviving on SNAP [Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program] and WIC [a Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children] and struggling to find educational opportunities without financial aid.”
After becoming determined to improve opportunities for her son, Lawrence said that she began working two full-time jobs and saving $20,000. A portion of the money was used to repair her credit and obtain financial advisory services. Lawrence stated that a financial advisor scammed her out of over $30,000.
She persevered, took legal action, reclaimed her funds and used them to purchase a home in a safe neighborhood for her child.
Despite experiencing unexpected obstacles, Lawrence did not give up on attending college.
“I was given a second chance by a local community college and then went on to pursue my bachelor’s degree in business administration at Morgan State University, while also seeking ways to assist girls facing similar challenges.”
With guidance from her mentor, Juanita Grant, Lawrence founded her own nonprofit. Additionally, Lawrence’s thriving consulting business, Nonprofit For Newbies, enabled her to leave her old job and achieve six-figure earnings in 2022.
“With my consulting business thriving, I am giving back to my community through my latest project, Esi’s House of Hope, a dream I have nurtured for five years,” Lawrence said.
Lawrence stated that she raised money to fulfill her wish of getting Esi’s House of Hope off the ground through donation-based “pay-what-you-can” consulting services that she offers to women entrepreneurs. She has received some in-kind donations thus far.
As a part of Esi’s House programming, current expenses of participants are evaluated to determine how the nonprofit can work with a mother to help cover or supplement them so that she can reduce her employment from full-time to part-time, and focus her energy on school, self-development and caring for her child.
“In addition to basic needs, we provide supportive services including but not limited to our “Weekly Support Circle/Girl Talk,” “Big Sister 1-on-1 Mentorship,” parenting skills and financial literacy,” Lawrence said.
The location of Esi’s House is confidential to protect the safety of our residents who have been victims of sexual assault and/or domestic violence. A first event will be held on November 24, 2023 for residents and supporters.
Lawrence added, “Baltimore has been extremely supportive of us as we’ve opened our doors six months early. We are currently in need of household essentials from the community and financial support from local businesses.”
Visit www.esishouse.org to learn more about Esi’s House of Hope.