About a two years ago, Rickyna Miller Smith really needed a friend. She was six months pregnant, had just relocated to Montgomery, and was completely on her own. Though she was receiving prenatal care at River Region Health Center and doing all the things she thought she was supposed to be doing, she couldn’t quite shake the feeling that there was more that she could be doing for herself and the little life growing inside her.
Then, one day while at the center, she saw a Gift of Life flyer and asked her social worker what she thought about the program.
“My social worker was very familiar with Gift of Life and told me enrolling in the programs would be a great move,” Miller said. “I really didn’t have a support system here so I was really impressed that someone from Gift of Life would be with me every step of the way and that they would actually come to my home and help me before and after my baby Reign was born,” she said. “When I first met my coach Bethany Thomas, I knew I was going to like her. I told her that the most important thing for me was to advance myself and learn how I could be the best mother that I could be.”
Miller said Thomas has been great to work with. “I’ve learned so much from Bethany about where Reign should be developmentally and about the importance of reading to her. She also cares about me and encouraged me to finish school.”
Miller has since completed her undergraduate degree in social work at Alabama State University and is currently pursing graduate studies in forensic social work at ASU. Her goal is to one day help troubled kids or those who have a long history of trauma that have been incarcerated.
Miller is currently engaged to Reign’s father, Robert Smith, who was so impressed with what Gift of Life had done for his fiancé, that he enrolled up for GOL’s Fathers in Action Program. Smith also graduated from ASU and is a math teacher at McKee Middle School.
Thomas says Miller is a great example of why Parents as Teachers works. “Rickyna has achieved almost everything that we teach in Parents as Teachers such as setting goals, perseverance and finding meaningful ways to connect with and teach your child,” she said. “As her coach, I’m very proud of what she has achieved for herself and her family.”