WATERVILLE — When Natacha Valley became pregnant during her final year of high school, she dreaded the negative reactions that she might receive from classmates.

“My biggest fear with going to high school while being pregnant was the judgement and the idea of not having people around me going through the same thing,” she said.

Toward the end of her senior year of high school, Valley moved from New York to Maine, where she would finish the school year at the Sharon Abram Teen Parent School Program, housed under the Maine Children’s Home.

“There’s not a program like this in the state that has all the supports in one place for teen parents,” Rick Dorian, executive director of Maine Children’s Home for Little Wanderers, said. Services in this particular program include teaching the academic curriculum as well as counseling services, outreach services, on-site childcare, preparation for before-and-after-childbirth-care and nutrition-based programs.

Now 17-years-old and a graduate of the school, raising 3-month-old Caylum with her partner, Keegan Drake, Valley credits the school for giving her confidence. Valley is currently working toward a nursing degree at Kennebec Valley Community College.

Drake is also completing his senior year at the school.

“I like it better here,” Keegan Drake said. “At my old high school, I was judged a lot and here, it’s easier knowing that there is another teen dad that understands what it’s like.”

On Saturday afternoon, the Low XII Maine chapter of Widows Sons Masonic Riders partnered up with the Maine Children’s Home for a fundraiser to benefit the Sharon Abram Teen Parent School Program. Upon completion, students that finish the high school program receive their diplomas through Waterville Senior High School.

The Low XII Riders are a group of Freemasons that work to support widows and orphans while riding their motorcycles for hobby. The fundraiser, which was organized in part by Lori and Jerry “Moxie” Knight, came about when the couple was looking for a new organization to support.

“We were having trouble finding ‘orphans’ (to support) and children a couple of years ago and we saw on the news that (Maine Children’s Home) was having problems raising funds and getting supplies,” Lori Knight said. “Last year was our biggest year and I think the weather has scared some people away this year, but we have some big plans for the next year.”

The event kicked off at 11 a.m., where motorcyclists rode from the JFK Plaza to the Children’s Home, where they raised money and supplies to benefit the home. It was not clear on Saturday how much was raised other than the dozens of boxed diapers and childcare supplies that crowded the hallway of the Development and Christmas Program building.

Each member that donated an item was able to put in a request for who they would like to see receive a pie in the face and money was collected from those who wished to deliver the pies.

Guests at the event included former and current students, including Megan Merrow and her mom, Carrie. Megan is a 16-year-old junior at the Sharon Abram School and is six months pregnant. She began classes at the school in August after transferring from Messalonskee.

“The transition has been good,” Megan Merrow said. “Everyone has been really nice and the pace here is more calm. Since there are not as many students here than my old school, it feels more homey and nice, it feels right.”

“I am thankful,” Carrie Merrow said, teary eyed. “I know she’s supported and I know that she is safe here. When she became pregnant, I didn’t know how it would be received or how her peers would react to that. It’s nice to know that she is accepted for who she is and that they will take care of her and the baby here. I just don’t have to worry. I see a difference in my daughter already, she is figuring out who she is.”

For now, those interested in donating supplies including diapers of all sizes, baby wipes, gas cards and Hannaford gift cards are encouraged to drop them off at the Maine Children’s Home, located at 93 Silver St.

“The Teen Parent Program has really helped me (emotionally and financially),” said Rebecca Potter, a graduate of the school. “The peer support has helped me grow as a person and has made me feel more confident as a mom. The diapers and baby wipes donations have helped me through a lot of tough financial situations. Having that extra backup when I’m just scraping by on rent really helps and I feel so thankful to be a part of this program.”

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