Generosity Stories – Volume III: Empowering Teen Moms to Dream
Kelle Zizmer grew up in a suburb of Denver with humble means. “God gave me little so I would know what to do in all circumstances,” she recalls. “We were a very frugal family.” She and her husband, Mike, share these beginnings. Yet she says that as God entrusted them with more and more financially over the years, her ideas of what is valuable and worth pursuing began to see a shift.
“When our daughter was five, we went on a mission trip as a family to the Dominican Republic… that’s where my heart started to change. I wanted to put feet to my faith,” recalling seeing lives transformed during her time there. “I remember thinking, ‘I don’t want to just do that in the summer, I want to do that year round.’”
Kelle began to serve at the local crisis pregnancy center. “It fit my heart for women and gave me an opportunity to share my faith and the hope that I had through Jesus.” Recognizing her work was important, she still longed to build deeper relationships, which was sometimes difficult with many only a step away from having phones disconnected or needing to move due to financial situations. She continued to pray through the years God would reveal to her what to do.
One day, Kelle was introduced to Young Lives, a branch of Colorado-based Young Life. Young Lives provides a place for young teenage moms to feel loved and supported through the continued deepening of relationships with other women. Kelle fell in love with the premise immediately. “These girls chose life and now it’s our role to come alongside them to encourage them as women, mothers, and students.” She now serves as the Orlando area coordinator.
Kelle shares the story of an unnamed Orlando girl who became pregnant in high school. Her parents rejected her. Her church rejected her. “She felt a ton of shame and a real lack of hope in her life, yet was determined to have her son,” Kelle recalls. Through the support of Young Lives mentorship and training, she is in the midst of finishing at Valencia and is on track to pursue her dream of becoming a lawyer.
Having been transformed by the generosity of time in others, she has been inspired to volunteer her own time with Young Lives to mentor pregnant and young mothers. “She just wrote a paper about being a mentor and the importance of pouring into rather than marginalizing teen moms,” Kelle beams.
The experience has Kelle and Mike diving deeper into what it means to live a life well. They recently went through a program called “Charting Your Legacy,” focusing on understanding time, possessions, and generosity. Reflecting and praying together, Kelle and Mike decided they wanted to focus their money and time on efforts that would holistically serve marriages, foreign aid / missionaries, and young people. The conversations have even engaged their children, whom are part of their family conversations on annual giving.
“We believe in being generous with both our time and our money. Doing so, rather than storing it up, can bring joy and blessing and freedom,” Kelle concludes. “It’s not easy on some days, but God doesn’t always call us to the easy… If we can make a difference in the trajectory of someone else’s life because of our generosity, then it’s worth it. It really is.”
Generosity Stories is a series meant to inspire generosity in others by highlighting stories of individuals and families in Central Florida.
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If you have a story to share or are interested in learning more about the “why” and “how” of generosity, email NCF Orlando at firstname.lastname@example.org.