Photo/Sage Leehey

April Gonzalez is the executive director of the Casa De Vida, which helps young pregnant and parenting women. They also have a boutique where those who are in need can shop free for baby necessities. It is located at 1290 Mill St. For more information, visit

What is Casa De Vida?

Casa De Vida is a residential home for young parenting and pregnant women. We accept women between the ages of 12 and 25. We give women who are pregnant or have young children that don’t have any place to go a place to live, and we feed them. We also have a plan put in place so that when they come in, we work with them on finding safe and affordable housing, continuing school—whether it be getting their high school diploma or GED or moving on to college—finding work, daycare for their babies, transportation is another big thing.

How many girls do you usually have at one time?

Our main house, the maternity home, can house up to eight pregnant girls, so we have four bedrooms with two beds in each room. And then our House of Hope, which is right next door to us, is our transition home, and that’s for parenting girls. And we can take two girls with their babies or children in there.

With the holidays coming up, do you have any special needs?

Well, one of our biggest needs is, obviously, money. We can always use cash assistance. We have a budget—groceries, keep the lights on, to help pay for the therapist who comes in and helps the girls with their case management. We buy bus passes so they have transportation to their doctor’s offices and appointments they need to go to. So that is always, always a need with most non-profits. Another part of Casa De Vida is Wanda’s Closet. … It’s a boutique of clothes for children up to size five. There’s strollers, car seats, formula, diapers, that kind of stuff. We can always use—especially this time of year—jackets, blankets, warm socks, hats, gloves, shoes—winter shoes, that kind of stuff.

Why is Casa De Vida important for the girls?

A lot of them don’t have a family, don’t come from a place where they’re going to get that solid ground that you and I had when we were growing up. Although I had my first child when I was 18, I was lucky I had a supportive family. Yes, my mom freaked out, and she thought about having me live elsewhere, but she came to her senses. … Sometimes we get aged-out foster kids and homeless women. This is really an important place for those girls and those young women because we help them where they might not have had the help.

What do they do while they’re in the house?

We have volunteers from the community come in. We have a doula, which is somebody who helps pregnant people before, during and after their childbirth. We have parenting classes. We have nurses coming in talking about taking care of a baby. … We have somebody come in that teaches them financial classes … cooking, cleaning. We have Social Services come in and talk to them about the possibility of their child being taken away if they don’t take the necessary steps to make sure their child is protected—just all sorts of different classes. We keep them pretty busy. CPR classes. Infant care. Anything and everything you can think of.