Pregnancy is filled with emotions … excitement, fear, anticipation. For many of us, it’s a time to share our joy with loved ones, to decorate nurseries and fold onesies as we look forward to the moment we’ll first hold our sweet babies.
But for many in our community, it’s also a time filled with worry that threatens to overshadow the joy. Worry about having enough to eat to ensure baby gets her nutrition … worry about where baby will sleep when he comes home … worry about what will happen when baby gets sick and the bus route isn’t going to the doctor that day … and, perhaps most frightening, worry about what will happen if rent is paid late again.
As a mother, my heart breaks when I think of the families in our own community who struggle to meet the most basic needs for their children. These moms are our neighbors, women who have simply fallen on hard times or are struggling to do their very best without a support system. And these moms motivate me to do everything possible to help them find hope as they continue their journeys to become the best moms they can be.
Many families in Volusia and Flagler counties face this hard reality every day. In fact, the Coalition for the Homeless reports there are approximately 700 people experiencing homelessness in the Daytona Region on any given day. Those 700 are men, women and children … including pregnant moms and babies.
During my time as the Program Manager for Children’s Home Society of Florida’s (CHS) Healthy Start Program in Daytona, I’ve seen many tears fall as mothers we serve have shared their struggles. Many have been unable to afford a crib for their baby, others have lost their jobs because they had to take care of their sick children, some have fallen behind on rent and faced eviction, and more still were approaching the journey of motherhood without any support system.
But, because of our community, these mothers – our neighbors – have hope. They know they aren’t alone.
While Healthy Start is here to provide a strong support system, connections to resources, pre- and post-natal education and more, we’re also here to show local moms that they truly do have a village. Thanks to our generous community, we’ve been able to gift cribs, diapers, formula and more to help ease some stress and financial strain, and to show how much this community cares.
And the reality is, these mothers need us now more than ever. This is why I’m grateful to the Port Orange Walmart for donating $20,000 to CHS’ Healthy Start Program.
Through this free home-visiting program, we provide education and care coordination to pregnant women and families raising children under age 3. Our goal is to help more women experience healthy pregnancies and births, and to help more children reach key developmental milestones. During our time together, we empower families to create strong, stable homes for their children to grow and thrive.
Thanks to Walmart’s generosity, we’re able to take significant strides in helping homeless mothers and those on the brink of homelessness. Funds from this grant will help support our Family Crisis Stabilization Initiative, which focuses on developing realistic plans with mom so she can find safe housing. With this initiative, we also help mom find steady childcare so she can pursue stable employment, and we continue providing critical support through our regular Healthy Start visits.
Supporting families on their journeys toward hope, stability and happiness is nothing new for CHS. In fact, Children’s Home Society of Florida was founded in 1902 — before the invention of the Model T. Ford, bubble gum or the Band-Aid — to provide loving homes for children, and to strengthen families going through tough times. As we celebrate our 120th year devoted to children and families, we’re also celebrating the crucial role community support has played in our legacy.
Thanks to Walmart’s generosity – and that of our entire community – we’ll be able to empower more mothers in the community and continue CHS’ legacy of creating safety, security, hope, and opportunities for children and families. If you’d like to be part of this incredible legacy of making a difference, please visit www.chsfl.org.
Tiffany Morin is the Program Manager for Children’s Home Society of Florida’s Healthy Start Program, serving kids and families in the Daytona region.