Thana Hickman-Simmons, Founder and Executive Director
Thana Hickman-Simmons grew up in a middle-class home on the south side of Chicago. Then, at 17, she faced an unplanned pregnancy just as she received her college acceptance letter, which led to a shift in her plans.
Despite the challenges, Thana was determined to complete her education. She was never homeless thanks to her incredible support system, which included her parents, sisters, and godmother. This support helped her realize she could balance family life with obtaining a degree and pursuing a career. At 21, Thana started an insurance career and eventually earned a degree in Business Administration while raising three daughters.
In 2007, Thana moved to Dallas and, realizing how fortunate she was to have had such a strong support network, founded Viola’s House in 2008 as a mentoring program for teen mothers. Her passion was to provide support and educational opportunities for these young women to ensure their success in raising their children. In addition, Thana soon recognized the need for housing assistance among teen mothers in Dallas and established a residential program for homeless expectant teen mothers.
Viola’s House opened its first apartment with two beds in partnership with Cornerstone Baptist Church in 2015. Within six days, the program received ten applications for the available spots. The organization grew, providing a safe home and resources for hundreds homeless teen mothers in South Dallas.
Viola’s House now operates from a state-of-the-art facility, offering 24-hour staff support, licensed counselors, mentors, and educators to ensure the growth and success of its residents. In addition, in 2022, the Viola’s House Baby Benefit Boutique (BBB) was established to further serve community needs by offering voucher-based shopping and educational parenting classes.
Since its inception in March 2022, the BBB has served over six thousand participants and has seen over seventy-three thousand visits. Thana holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, is a certified Life Coach, and has a license of ordination in ministry. She has worked in the insurance industry for 20 years as a catastrophic claims manager.
As the Executive Director of Viola’s House, Thana’s greatest joy is helping homeless teen mothers transition to self-sufficiency. Her three daughters also serve at Viola’s House in various capacities, and she currently resides in Dallas, TX.