The atmosphere at Viola’s House in Dallas thumps with energy and hope.

A toddler in a princess skirt swirls as a newborn baby sleeps nearby on the living room couch. A stack of baby diapers outlines the wooden walls downstairs. Signs mark the bedroom doors with uplifting words like “love” and “faith.”

It’s a family atmosphere here because, after all, family is exactly what these new moms need right now.

“My story is that I was basically homeless, abused, and neglected,” 18-year-old Kahlila Osborn said, as she sat on her twin bed. She’s six months pregnant and will give birth to a daughter in April. “I don’t have a good relationship with my baby’s father, and that’s why I’m here. I want to become a better person and strive to create a better future and do the best I can for my baby.”

Viola’s House is a labor of love, born from a great need, designed to protect some of the most marginalized and at-risk teen moms in the Dallas community. The organization’s mission is to provide emergency maternity housing and support services to teen mothers faced with unplanned pregnancies.

Viola’s House dispersed over 60,000 free diapers to young women in Dallas in December alone.

Viola’s House will receive a $25,000 check from the Mavs Foundation during halftime of the Feb. 4 game. The funds will provide support to Viola’s House Teen Maternity Program. The program offers life skills, education, and training in financial literacy, parenting, and counseling.

Leaders say the goal is to provide a community of support for at-risk teen moms and empower them with the tools and resources to care and provide for themselves and their children. It truly does take a village.

Thana Hickman-Simmons grew up on the south side of Chicago in a middle-class home. At the age of 17, she received her acceptance letter for college and also faced an unplanned pregnancy.

At the time, she did not understand the shift in her plans.

Something more providential was at work in her life; it would just take years before the greater purpose came into focus.

In the first years of her daughter’s life, Hickman-Simmons realized what a gift it was to have the support of her family and close friends. She became acutely aware that many teen mothers did not have the same kind of support.

When Hickman-Simmons later moved to Dallas, she felt a strong calling on her life to create a program to help young women.

Viola’s House was later born as a “Maternity House” to provide temporary housing and support services to expectant teenage mothers aged 12-21 in the Dallas area. It began as a mentoring program for teens facing an unplanned pregnancy and later expanded to include a residential program after Hickman-Simmons realized many teens faced homelessness.

Today it has blossomed into something much more significant than just an organization. It is a ministry and support system that has helped thousands of young women over the years.

Through a partnership with Cornerstone Baptist Church, Viola’s House opened one apartment with two beds in 2015. Now, it has helped more than 240 homeless teen mothers in South Dallas through housing, licensed counselors, mentors, and educators.

In addition to helping these teen moms, Hickman-Simmons has also created jobs for women, including her three daughters.

In 2021, Viola’s House served an astounding 3,855 young mothers through its residential program and external community outreach initiatives.

Hickman-Simmons still serves as founder and executive director of Viola’s House, and she said sustained housing for new mothers is always a challenge.

“One of the barriers that we see is we have a lot of applicants pregnant with their second or third child,” said Hickman-Simmons, who is also a certified life coach and holds a license of ordination in ministry. “We can only take a mother and baby or pregnant mother to live here, so housing is always a challenge. Texas is number one in repeat teen pregnancies, so our greatest challenge is space and housing.”

She shared that Viola’s House recently signed a contract on a 15-unit apartment building around the corner.

“So it will be a process even when we close because we have to wait for the leases of the residents who currently live there to end. It’s going to be a process, and we’ll do one apartment at a time, but eventually, we’ll have 15 apartments to help counteract that barrier that we see with housing.”

Viola’s House utilizes a holistic approach to help expectant teen mothers make enduring, positive changes in their lives. Job readiness classes provide training in current industries, workforce development, life management, and decision-making skills. For residents, Viola House’s education program includes transportation to their home or local school districts, online education services and GED program support, tutoring, college planning, and financial literacy.

The Mavs Foundation grant will help with the general operating costs at Viola’s House.

Before we left Viola’s House today, Osborn, the teen we talked about earlier in the story, opened her heart and shared more of her story. She has three months until her beautiful daughter arrives and the baby’s crib is already tucked in the corner. The young woman wants to make the most of her time at Viola’s House. She says she feels safe and comforted.

Now, she wants to help others.

“My message to people is never to give up,” Osborn told us. “If you’re in a situation where you know it’s your lowest point, never give up and move on. It’s okay to move on in life because you never know what’s next in your chapter.”

To learn more about Viola’s House and the mission behind the organization, click here.


At the start of the season, the Dallas Mavericks and Mavs Foundation announced plans to allocate over $1 million in funds this season to support the North Texas community. 

The funding will include grants, special projects, and emergency aid – from building basketball courts and reading and learning centers, to meal delivery for homebound seniors, to healthcare for uninsured children, and continued support for those struggling during the pandemic.

“We are thrilled to announce our commitment of $1 million for the first time ever,” said Mavs Foundation President Katie Edwards. “The need is greater than ever across the North Texas community, and we are grateful for the opportunity to support local nonprofits doing such critical work.”

Leading up to the Mavs Ball on March 4, the Mavericks will highlight selected organizations to share more about their mission and commitment to helping families across the region.

To read past stories, click the links below:








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