Here at FFL, we are constantly inspired by the next generation of female leaders who pursue causes they’re passionate about. Purity Thomas is no different. She started a pro-life organization in 2016. reLOVE helps young mothers in many different ways. Did we mention she’s just 17 years old? Why did she start reLOVE? What goes into running an organization at such a young age? We sat down with Purity to find out.
Tell us a little bit about your background.
I am 17 years old and I grew up in Roanoke, Virginia. My family was pro-life, however, the topic of abortion was rarely discussed leading to me never fully understanding what abortion was. Had I been asked, I would’ve said I was pro-life but pro-exceptions. It wasn’t until 2016, when I learned that my favorite celebrity, Lin-Manuel Miranda, supported Planned Parenthood that I started researching the subject and immersing myself into activism. I started out with Students for Life of America, started my own club, and was with them until I started reLOVE.
What is reLOVE?
reLOVE is a nonprofit organization that assists and educates pregnant and parenting teenage mothers in the United States. We use social media and our website to connect with teenagers and assist them as much as possible. We offer emotional assistance, pregnancy tests, education of pregnancy options, baby and maternity items, job and resume help, and connecting with local and national resources that are available to assist them. Ultimately, we want to be friends and be there for them through the different challenges that come with teen pregnancy.
We also believe that education is empowerment, so we are currently working on an educational project that will educate teenagers on their bodies, options, and resources available. This will include education on the menstrual cycle, birth control, condoms, healthy vs. abusive relationships, etc. all from a statistical and scientific point of view. Additionally, there will be pregnancy and parenting education that will include information on prenatal vitamins, pregnancy centers, midwives, doulas, lactation, labor and delivery, and much more.
Where did you get the idea for reLOVE?
Being a teenage activist before starting reLOVE, I saw a lot of pressure from organizations like Planned Parenthood to push abortion on teenagers. I got ad after ad on Snapchat and Instagram from Planned Parenthood and it felt like they were saying because you’re a teenager, you are not strong enough to be a mom. I wanted to do more, I was running my Students for Life club but it really wasn’t going anywhere, so I started sidewalk counseling and after doing that for a bit, I ended up getting punched in the face by an adult woman in December 2017. And as my story circulated, a friend told me to take this negative experience and turn it into something good. So, I did. Two months later, I consulted my classmates and said, “I have an idea, I want to help women, and I just need a name.” They threw some names at me and reLOVE was mentioned and it hit me, that I want to love and relove girls over and over again no matter their situation or the decisions they have made, because they deserve to be loved and cared for. reLOVE transformed the way I was doing my activism, from being so focused on the unborn baby, into genuinely caring and loving for women, girls, and mothers in difficult situations. I try to put myself in those situations and try to understand what it would be like to be faced with all the different stresses, decisions, and anxieties. So, I want to be a voice that tells girls “you can” in a society that says, “you can’t”. I want to empower, encourage, and uplift girls in difficult situations having to make difficult decisions and I want to drown out all of the voices that tell her she isn’t strong enough and overpower them with love, compassion, care, and logistical support. So reLOVE was born.
Who else works on reLOVE with you? What are their positions?
Part of what makes reLOVE a unique organization, is that we are teenage and young adult run, with our team being located throughout the United States. Our team is young, creative, positive, understanding and loving. Because our team is young we get to relate to some of the struggles teenagers face. Whether that’s school, family, or relationship problems, we have and are experiencing those things as well and we can relate with them. There’s a unique peer to peer connection and a lot of times when young girls face unplanned pregnancy, they’re scared of adults and feeling judged and us being there for them as a friend, a coach, and a peer helps.
Our team includes, Taniya Smith, she is the head of our social media outreach, Amanda Kallas is our communications director, Nadia Martin is our treasurer, and Claudia Ariza is our writer for our blog. We all work together in supporting and helping one another in our positions.
What is the hardest part of running an organization at such a young age?
Time management. I’m an online student, everyone on the team are students, so there’s always something that has to get done and juggling everything is definitely a challenge. Also, people not believing in and supporting us because of our ages. I’ve talked with people who want to support us and then back out when they find out how old we are, which has made it difficult for us to get the support we need to support our clients.