Thana Hickman-Simmons grew up on the south side of Chicago in a very middle-class home. As a teen, she found herself facing an unplanned pregnancy at the age of 17, just as she received her acceptance letter for college. At the time, she did not understand the shift in her plans.
Thana was determined to finish what she started, although the journey had shifted. Thana was never homeless due to the amazing support system she was blessed with. Her parents, sisters and godmother were the support system that helped her realize that she could have a husband, children and still obtain a degree and career. Thana started an insurance career at the age of 21 and continued the journey of completing a degree in Business Administration now with three daughters. Her support system is grand!
As Thana evolved in her journey, she relocated to Dallas in 2007. Thana realized that she was blessed with something that many girls did not have, a real mother, a father, a surrogate mother and a village of women around her, thus Viola’s House was formed in 2008 as a mentoring program to give aid and support to teen mothers. Thana’s passion was undeniable as she felt all teen mothers deserved support and the opportunity to obtain education and a successful career to take care of their children. Shortly after the inception of the mentoring program, Thana realized that so many teen mothers in the Dallas area lacked housing and became homeless after learning of their pregnancy for various reasons. Hence, a residential program for homeless expectant teen mothers was started. Through a partnership with Cornerstone Baptist Church, Viola’s House opened one apartment with two beds in 2015 to start the residential program. Within six days, there were approximately 10 applicants for two beds! Shortly thereafter, more apartments were opened, and Viola’s House was at capacity at all times with 7-8 homeless expectant teen mothers and their newborn babies after they gave birth.
Years later, Viola’s House has given a safe home, a bed, and programming to over 50 homeless teen mothers in South Dallas. Viola’s House currently operates out of a newly renovated state of the art facility which holds six mothers and six babies. There is staff on site 24 hours a day and licensed counselors, mentors, and educators who partner to ensure the growth and success of our residents.
Thana currently holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, is a certified Life Coach and holds a license of ordination in ministry. Thana has had a successful insurance career for 20 years for several top insurance companies as a catastrophic claims manager.
As the Executive Director of Viola’s House, Thana has found her greatest joy in serving homeless teen mothers as they transition from homelessness to self-sufficiency. Thana is blessed with three beautiful daughters who now serve at Viola’s House in various capacities, and she resides in Dallas, TX.