2015 Imagine Award honorees Damonia and Trent Lee.

Trent and Damonia were childhood friends and high school sweethearts. In addition to shared childhood memories, they had something else in common: both were born to teen parents. Trent’s father and Damonia’s mother were absent for most of their lives, and they were each raised largely by a single parent and/or grandparents. But they had each other and dreams of living at the beach. After they graduated from Charlottesville High School, they moved to the Tidewater area and began community college. The reality of life on their own proved to be difficult financially, and they struggled with anger and trust issues. As their relationship became more tumultuous, they ended up returning to Charlottesville to live separately. However, an unplanned pregnancy ended up connecting them to each other, their future, and their past.

Trent and Damonia were referred to CHiP by the Teen Health Center at UVa and were enrolled in the Parenteen program. CHiP provided education and support to them throughout the pregnancy, connecting them to community resources, assisting in successful job searches, and referring them to counseling to help with communication and conflict resolution. They committed fully to their baby and to one another, but that commitment would be tested when Damonia delivered their baby prematurely. Due to a kidney problem that required emergency surgery, Damonia and baby Tristen spent the first few weeks in the hospital. Trent came every day after work to feed and learn about the special care needs of a premature baby.

They faced the many challenges of this time with courage and perseverance, resolving to be good parents, good partners, and working hard to provide a stable, healthy home for their son. Their Family Support Worker, Rosemary, nominated them saying, “I am so proud of this young couple for all they have overcome. For the two of them to each come from single parent homes, they joined together with a shared goal of co-parenting their son in the best way possible.” Damonia and Trent were married in a small private ceremony in December of 2014, and Tristen is thriving and developmentally on track. This happy ending is no fairy tale, but rather the result of real world hard work and determination. Well done, Trent and Damonia!

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