ESSENCE Network: How A Former Teen Mom Overcame Cancer and Started A Social Hub For Activists
Center of Attention Photography

Name: Deona Hooper

Age: 42

Occupation: Founder/Editor-in-Chief, Social Work Helper Magazine

Location: Durham, North Carolina

Hometown: Harrells, North Carolina

Facebook: Social Work Helper

Twitter: @swhelpercom Facebook: Social Work Helper

Passion fuels a dream: Hooper created Social Work Helper, an online magazine providing news, information, and resources for social issues and human rights.

Creating a digital space for social workers: I did it initially as a therapeutic outlet that started out as a social network but I broadened it to a media outlet creating awareness for populations who might not have that. Social workers are there to help people through crisis, so I decided to not just uplift their voices into a media platform but an intervention.

Being a third generation teen mom:
Being a black woman period, you’re already starting off at a deficit and then when you’re a teen parent, much less a generational teen parent, the judgment and the low expectations will follow, but it’s just another hurdle to overcome. (Both Hooper’s mother and grandmother were young mothers too.)

Overcoming cancer: I had a thyroid condition but I couldn’t get care because I didn’t have any health insurance. It wasn’t until I actually got insurance again years later that I got diagnosed with cancer. I’m healthy now but it’s been a challenge. I built Social Work Helper during some of the worst years of my life. I was the sole provider for myself and not being able to work with doctor bills really crushed me financially, but instead of focusing on everything going wrong, I decided to put my time into Social Work Helper.

Her advice for teen moms: Never succumb to peer pressure, trust yourself and follow your instincts. When you follow what your instincts are telling you, you can save yourself a whole lot of trouble.

What she likes to do in her downtime: I’m a comic book super hero nerd. One of the things that I’ve been able to do is go to Comic-Con where I’m able to marry my passion for social work and helping others with comics and graphic novels and things of that nature.

Her super power: I have the ability to carry a lot and not show it.

Her theme song: “I’m Every Woman” by Whitney Houston