A note from Loreli Cockram, Young Parents Director.
This is the first of a series of stories we captured to commemorate 25 years of Young Parents ministry. It is a transcript of an interview we carried out between an alumni mom in our program – in this case, the very first mom, Gallian Bake – and the ministry worker who founded our Young Parents program, Margie Timpson. In the interview, they speak about how their connection made a significant change and lasting impact in both of their lives.
Those of us who were in the room during this conversation knew, when we heard this story and the interactions between Gally and Margie, that it was a vulnerable and special moment we got to witness. You’ll read how Gally’s son, Elijah, tragically passed away earlier this year. Gally shares how the lessons she learned as a teen mom are helping her face the unknown future without him. She also shares how important loving connections, which were essential in the early years, like hers and Margie’s, sustain her even now.
Gallian’s resilience, strength, and trust in God, and Margie’s openness to how God was leading her to grow this ministry, inspired us deeply. We share it with you here in the same generous spirit that Gally and Margie did with us. May it inspire you also and increase your hope to know that God knows and cares for you and desires to connect you to people who reflect His love for you.
Of course, Gally and Margie’s stories aren’t finished. This interview is just a small glimpse, but we wanted to recognize God’s provision, comfort, and care within the unfolding story, in order to move into the future with hope. Please celebrate this God-inspired connection with us.
Q. Can you talk about that initial connection and how it came about from your point of view?
Gallian: When I was 16 I found out that I was pregnant, and there was a lot going on in my life at that time with my parents and my family and big decisions on the table. I didn’t know what to do. I needed support and I turned to Margie who I was connected with through my youth group at Parkway Bible Church. We were able to spend time together and work through what was going on at that time, like telling my parents I was pregnant.
I ended up getting kicked out of the house and going to live at Rosalie Hall. I had never really slept outside of my home before so it was a big deal to be away from home and in a whole new setting. Margie was that constant person. We would meet for coffee, sit together and really just talk about what was real at that time – all the scariness of becoming mom, what to expect and just the not knowing. She brought a lot of wisdom and support and she was able to bridge that gap as well through communication with my family – to really bring together a level of communication that wasn’t there
Q. What was it about Margie because it sounds like you initiated contact with her to get the support you needed? So was she an option of many or what was it about Margie in particular?
G: I was blessed enough to be connected through our youth group and that’s really where we had the chance to have our life’s paths cross. She was just lovingly and willingly there for me through the different stages at that time.
Q. Can you describe where you were at or what your emotional state was when you first found out you were pregnant?
G: I was scared, very scared. One phrase that sticks out to me, even 25 years later is, “Well, your life’s over now.” Meaning you won’t have a chance to live your dreams and be everything that you were going to be, because now you’re going to be a mom. That was a common viewpoint and it was disheartening. You feel like, “How am I going to finish high school?” “What’s next?” and “How am I going to support my baby?”
There were all the unknowns while being a baby myself and having to take on this responsibility. I feel that I was blessed enough to have the ability to take it on and really use that as a driving force. I’m very aware that it’s not always that easy, even for myself, on a day-to-day basis or with the struggles but there was a driving force which was my son and creating a life for him and being proud of who I am as his mom and all those things. I think at that time, I needed a voice of reason bigger than my life experience and my knowledge as a 16-year-old, still being a baby myself. It really was helpful to have somebody to bounce my ideas off of and be able to share what I was going through. To be reassured that God’s got your back, you’ll be okay, you’re going to do great – all things I couldn’t even see at that point
Q. So you’re using God in your story, that “God’s got your back,” so I’m just curious, has faith been part of your journey?
G: Faith has definitely been a big part of my journey. As I said, I was active in youth group when I became pregnant at 16 and I continued to stay connected with my youth group. Even our Youth Pastor just recently reminded me of standing up in front of our youth group, letting them know that I was pregnant and my Pastor asking them, “Who’s going to stand with Gally?” and everybody in the youth group stood up and said, “We will stand with her and we’re going to journey with you” and just how brave it was to get up and share my story at that time. There was a lot of emotion going on – a lot of shame (it was a life choice that was visible on the outside), a lot of judgment, a lot of societal pressures of what you will be or what you won’t be or where your life’s going to go from here on out and just the heaviness of this choice and this scenario of now bringing a new life into this world – it was major in a lot of ways. There was a lot of turmoil in my family so everything was upside down as to where this life will lead, so I think that faith definitely was a big part of my journey. I dedicated my son as a baby at Parkway Bible Church with my youth group and supportive Margie right there beside me.
Q. You mentioned a bit about the supports you had, did you feel that you had good support?
G: Both when I was pregnant and afterwards, the connection of my church family was a big deal for me. I feel that there’s just a lot of pressure being a teen mom. I always would get “Oh, you’re baby-sitting, that’s so cute,” or “Well, that can’t be your son,” or “That’s obviously not your son.” There are lots of ways that you have to prove yourself as a good mom, and as a woman, in the successes in your own life. But to me, it was very special, and that was the driving force for me – for my son to be proud and, really, he knew all the sacrifices I made.
As a teen mom, you really grow up with your child. As you’re growing, they’re growing right there beside you. I didn’t have the chance to figure myself out and then figure out who I am as a mom and all the things that I want to impart to him and to show him. Who you want your children to be when they’re older – you don’t think about those things, you don’t. Call it all old school, we didn’t have Google. You’re not googling things, you’re connecting. You’re connecting with people, you’re connecting with moms like Margie who was a step ahead of me, who was able to say, “I’ve been here, it’s going to be ok, you’ll be fine, you’ll do it.” That was bigger than anything that I could even imagine because I was in it. I didn’t have any life experience to be able to say, “Alright, well, when they’re 5 or when they’re 10, this is what to expect”. It was really life rolling and growing together.
I feel so blessed. I started this journey so young and I didn’t know how life-defining having a child is. I just want to encourage all the moms and all the young moms to know that, you have something to prove to yourself and there’s so much pride in that and you have that passion and that love to show to your children. Just be strong. You don’t always see the bigger picture as to how this will all unfold with you and your family but you just have to trust that God brought this life into this world and He has a plan for them, a plan for us.
Q. What would you say was the impact on your life of having Margie’s support? What difference did it make?
G: I don’t think I would be the mom that I am today without Margie’s support in the beginning. Because you can feel lost and you can feel like life’s moving on. I was in Grade 10 when I had my son and all of my friends had moved on to finish high school, have their graduation and party and go to college and do the usual stuff. Whereas my responsibility and my focus was on raising and being there for my son, so it can be quite lonely. You chose a different life path than the rest of your classmates at that time. So I think it’s meant the world to me and even up to today, being able to connect with Margie now. Through the years, we’ve been able to still be there, keep up to date as to what’s going and it’s really special to me.
Q. [To Margie] What drew you to Gallian?
Margie: As Gally said, we knew each other because I was a youth leader at a youth group and she was a participant. Gally will remember this, but I always had this day-timer and I’d go around and schedule people in. Anyways, Gally phoned and said, “Hey, can we meet together?” So I pencilled her into my day-timer and I believe we went for a drive. I picked her up and we were driving and she looked at me and said, “I’m pregnant” and I was like “OK.” We were still driving and I remember her asking, “You’re not shocked?” and I said, “This is my non-shocked face.” Then we just started talking and journeying and I had hoped she realized that I would support her in whatever way. The funny thing is, by the time she told me, I was actually pregnant with my second child. She had a good pregnancy and I was very sick during my pregnancy. So it was a journey together in many ways.
Q. Out of that journeying together, what prompted you to start a young moms ministry?
M: Her parents, at that point, didn’t know how to handle it and kicked her out and so she did go to Rosalie Hall. So I worked with her through all that. And through that, I realized there’s such a gap for our young moms and I wondered how can we support young moms.
At that moment I thought Gally did have the support of the youth group and the church in so many different ways, wouldn’t it be great if every young mom had that? So I started developing a church-based model where you could get the volunteers from the church and you could do it in a church which had a nursery, which really made sense, and I just started envisioning it. I think it was a God-planted dream and vision.
Q. I think so too! Did other young people like Gallian come to you and say, “I want to meet with you”? or how did you know there were other young moms too?
M: I just started outreaching. I would go to Scarborough Town Centre and walk around and if you looked like a young mom, you got a brochure and I talked to you. I tried to work through hospitals so that our brochures would go to every young mom who gave birth there. It just grew through word of mouth and Gally being connected to Rosalie Hall also opened up avenues. And so all those avenues just started opening up and then one young mom knew another young mom and so forth.
It started slow. I remember at that point we had four volunteers and one young mom, and every week it was the same. But then it started to grow.
Q. What impact did this [ministry to young moms] have on you? How did it change you?
M: I learned a whole different world. Some people want to be missionaries and go to Africa. I didn’t need to go to Africa because I had a whole community here that I had no idea about. I didn’t know how they walked, how they talked, the language, I didn’t know what it was like to move from apartment to apartment, I didn’t know what it was like to have a baby daddy in their life that wasn’t helpful. I didn’t know anything like that. So I learned a lot – I learned how strong these young women are, I learned how they do their best for their family, I learned what injustice looks like and how other people treat them.
I think it changed a bit of my mindset and just the advocacy needed. Galli talked about shame and I’ve dealt with shame in my life in different ways and had to unpack that. I think that shame is something that no one should feel. I learned how much people carry shame and how we should not, as a Christian community, put that on anyone because we’re loved by God, we’re created by God and these children are His creation.
Q. And what impact did Gally have on you having walked with her?
M: I found Gally incredible! I mean, her courage and her determination to do right by her child, just spoke to me. I mean she is one strong lady. She’s a role model for me in how she took care of Elijah and being a new mom. Seeing her with the baby, she was good! And she was good even without good family support.
G: I feel so impacted by Margie and our connection and I thank God so much for allowing her to be in my life. I know that the projection would have been different, had I not had Margie at that time and not had that support. I feel that God’s got me but I feel that He really put Margie in my life to make sure that I had that support and that encouragement along the way. I’m very thankful for that.
Q. Are you able to talk about Elijah and the loss of your son?
G: It was always Elijah and I growing through the years. That was 24 years ago that he came into this world and on June 13th, 2022, he suddenly passed away and so it’s three months [as of the day of the interview] that he passed away. Even in that sudden shock and time of grief, I thought about Margie. I made sure that Margie was called and I wanted Margie to be there at the funeral and that really shows a testament to life-long connections. She was there at the beginning before my son was born, right to the very end. To be there and journey with me through his funeral, my grief, and even meeting afterwards throughout these months to chat and connect. That’s meant a lot to me because she knows where I came from right from the beginning and Elijah, right from day one, all the way up to now. I find that to be such a special bond that I was able to call on her and to have her be there in support and to see her face at the funeral and feel her presence – it was huge to me.
I have faith that God had a plan even when I was 16 and not knowing what this journey of life would bring with my new baby. And I know that, even now, He’s got him and He’s taking good care of him for me and my role as a mom has changed.
Q. You say your role as a mom has changed. Are you able to articulate that a little bit?
G: When Elijah passed away, I said that I don’t feel like a mom anymore. I thought I was motivated and encouraged and driven when he was little, I feel it in a totally different way now. It kind of brings me back to that feeling and I’ve said it a few times, I said, “Hey, I didn’t know what to do when he was little and I was 17 and holding this new little baby” and it’s those same feelings all over again but in a different way. So I really just trust God to show me to stay close and give me peace and to make an impact.
Margie’s made an impact on my life. I know that coming to the groups, showing up, and being involved – this is a special role to be part of somebody’s life. When we impact the mom, we impact the whole family. If the mom’s in a good place, that means that the kids can be in a good place. Their emotional well-being, physical well-being, having enough to provide – these are real day-to-day struggles and I know the guilt, I know the pressure and I know the perception of everybody looking at you.
I do think breaking through that stigma is what young moms groups are about. We’re not here to point fingers or to segregate. We’re part of welcoming, bringing in, and supporting one another. What an impact. I just see the ripple effect in so many ways that started 25 years ago, I see it in my life, and I feel it with my son, the ripple effect he’s had in his time here and where that goes. I just trust that in each of these groups and through each of the volunteers and each of the staff, they are having an impact and that ripple effect will make a difference both now and moving forward in those generations. It’s really important.
M: And without Gally, honestly, I don’t know! Without you and just who you are and journeying with Elijah, I don’t know where this would have been! 25 years later and the impact on the hundreds of moms and kids – it’s all because of you too.
G: Yes, it is a celebration in that way. I would have never thought, 25 years later I would be in this place, sharing this story and this would be my current reality. But I never thought of that at that time either. I never thought, “Oh well, this is going to be my life with my son and what does this look like” and those are the same feelings that I have now, looking at what this next chapter holds.
Q. Amazing. You referenced it – so I want to go there a little bit – that you’re learning from young-you on how to navigate this next season. I want you to look back and then I want you to look forward. So looking back at young Gally, what would you say to her today?
G: I would say to young Gally now, in the words of Elijah, “We got this.” That was something he always said and something I really hold dear. Right now, I would just say “We got this.” There was a divine path and God knows what’s going to happen and we’ll be ok, and just to be strong. All the things that I would say to somebody now, that meant so much to me back then, you don’t see it when you’re in it. I acknowledge that even now, I might not see what the purpose is and where this is going in my life personally and there are all different stages but I would just say, “Be encouraged, have peace and just enjoy your little baby so much. Just enjoy every second.”
Q. I want to also ask you, looking the other way as young Gally, what might she think of you now?
G: She would be proud. Everything I feel that my son felt towards me, that’s what I feel. I just know that the beauty I saw in my son and who he was, I see that in myself. The person he grew to be and who I was so proud of, he was so full of love and just shone so bright, I see those qualities in me. I trust God to keep my heart soft and encouraged and to know that I need to go through this for a reason and so, what I would say is, “I’m proud of you.”
Q. Margie, what is your hope for Gally moving forward? Maybe what your hope has been for her all along, but also what you see in her that you can speak to?
M: [To Gallian] Well, I love you dearly and always will, and not because of anything you do but because of who you are. It’s just been incredible to see you and now as you’re navigating a new time in your life, I just wish God’s blessing upon you, let Him comfort your heart and the hope that you see is the hope that is real. I think the impact that you continue to have on this world is far-reaching and the same with Elijah, the impact he has on this world is also going to be far-reaching and it’s going to be for God’s glory. I’m always incredibly proud of you. I remember the moment at the funeral and we were at the reception hall and you were talking to people and I was just kind of waiting and then a few of the other guys came over and all we did was bear-hug you, like we would do a long, long time ago and it felt so comfortable and real – the love between all of us and towards you. I just wish you the best, hold onto Jesus, cry out to Him when you need Him and He’ll be there and so are we.
Q. Gallian, what is the legacy you want to carry for your son?
G: Elijah loved connecting with people, he was very much about community and the way he said it was “calm unity”… a calm sense of unity. He was always all about uniting people and bringing together people in love. Even at the funeral, people who hadn’t even known him said that they were so impacted by who he was and how evidently his life shone. God brought him into this world for a reason and he was taken for a reason, this is all in God’s time. The reason that Margie and I met and that it all divinely came together at the time that it needed to 25 years ago, was for a purpose.
Even through the hardest time in my life and as much as I miss him right now, I just call on God so much. I just know that we’re here for each other and we are making an impact and I just encourage everybody who’s involved in the program and everybody who’s putting in that love towards others, that they just know and feel that that joy in knowing what a big impact that makes for others and for teen moms. I’ve been there, I know, and without that support, I don’t even know where I would be today and where these choices can lead. It’s all because God put exactly who I needed right in my path and gave me all that I needed at that time and I’m so thankful that if it wasn’t for this coming together and sparking that need and focus on what’s lacking for our teen moms in our communities and where that need can be met. It’s really amazing to see where it’s come and evolved over these years and that need is equally important up to today.