Mother of the Month: March 2017

Mar 27, 2017  •   Written by Jerail Fennell   •  no comments

received_1780777958848520The Northeast Florida Healthy Start Coalition would like to congratulate Maria Kassis on being selected as the March Mother of the Month.

Maria is a first-time mom who was nominated by her Healthy Families Jacksonville Family Support Worker, Earnestine Jackson.

“Maria has done a lot of research on parenting to be equipped to give her son, George, the best start in life” Jackson said. “She has went though and baby proofed her apartment, and ensured that it is a safe and nurturing environment so that George can learn and explore freely.”

Maria joined Healthy Families Jacksonville after meeting with a pediatrician. She left the office not knowing how she should properly raise her son.

“The doctor just told me how to keep him healthy” Maria said. “I was sitting there and thought to myself ‘is that it?’. I had no idea how to raise him, how he should be developing or how to keep him safe, and I learned all of that through Healthy Families. I am so happy.”

received_1731074790485504Maria is constantly working with George by reading books with him, engaging in interactive games and many other activities to continue to grow his development.

Check out what Maria had to say about her experience in Healthy Families Jacksonville thus far by clicking here.

On behalf of the Coalition and our Mother of the Month sponsor, Nothing Bunt Cakes , we would like congratulate Maria on being chosen as the Mother of the Month.

If you would like to nominate someone for the Mother/Father of the Month, click here.


Father of the Month: March 2017

Mar 24, 2017  •   Written by Jerail Fennell   •  no comments

breastfeeding week 4The Northeast Florida Healthy Start Coalition would like to congratulate Tory Thompson on being chosen as the March 2017 Father of the Month.

Tory was nominated by his wife of three years, Samantha. They have one son, Bryce, who is 16 months old. Samantha nominated Tory because of the support he offers her and the love that he has for both she and Bryce.

“Tory is such an amazing father” Samantha said. “He works a full-time job, and then he always comes home ready to play. He handles dinner, bath time and breakfast every day. One of Tory’s and Bryce’s favorite things to do is read books. It’s so heartwarming to hear them laugh together.”
Bryce 2Bryce 1Tory is also an avid University of Florida Gators fans. Whether the Gators are playing on the field or on the court, Tory is always engaged. He hopes, in a year or two, to bring Bryce along to all Gator events.

“Tory can’t wait to talk Gator football over pizza with Bryce. It’s going to be amazing” Samantha said.

On behalf of the Coalition and our Father of the Month sponsor, Nothing Bunt Cakes, we would like to congratulate Tory Thompson on being chosen as the Father of the Month.

If you would like to nominate someone for the Mother/Father of the Month, click here.

National Health Corps Florida accepting member applications

Mar 22, 2017  •   Written by Erin Addington   •  no comments

Retreat 15Applications are now open for the National Health Corps Florida AmeriCorps program and we have many amazing positions on the roster for this upcoming 2017-18 program year! There are also two immediate opportunities for service with the program that can begin anytime this summer in North Florida:

  1. Agape Family Health, Patient Navigator in a Clinical Family Health Setting
  2. First Coast YMCA, Health Educator for the Tower Gardens Project

National Health Corps Florida is an AmeriCorps program where members from all over the country commit to a 1,700 hour/46-week term of service at various public health-focused nonprofit and government partners in five counties in Northeast Florida. Members receive a $12,630 stipend over the term and an education award of $5,815 upon successful completion of the 1,700 hours.

Members provide direct services through their host site, including activities like enrolling uninsured patients into Medicaid or the market exchange; enrolling patients into prescription medication assistance programs; facilitating nutrition and fitness education with school children and adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities; providing health education workshops on topics such as chronic disease prevention and smoking cessation; facilitating STD/HIV prevention education to teens; and helping people navigate the health care system by making appointments and providing free health screenings.

The program requires that members must be at least 18 years of age, have a high school diploma or GED and volunteer experience as well as a passion for public health or medicine. The program is very competitive so if you have an interest, please be sure to apply via the National Health Corps Florida  website. If you have any further questions, feel free to email the Program Coordinator, Sherry Nelson at We look forward to reviewing your application!

Open Position: Magnolia Project Data Entry Clerk/Women’s Intervention Specialist

Mar 17, 2017  •   Written by Erin Addington   •  no comments

Update: This position is no longer open.

The Northeast Florida Healthy Start Coalition is accepting applications for a Data Entry Clerk/Women’s Intervention Specialist with the Magnolia Project.

The Data Entry Clerk/WIS is primarily responsible for inputting data into the computer system, clerical tasks and some home visitation to screen and assess women for Magnolia Project services. Click here for the full job description.

Resumes and cover letters should be e-mailed to

Health professionals from the Netherlands visit the Magnolia Project

Mar 16, 2017  •   Written by Jerail Fennell   •  no comments

The Magnolia Project, the Northeast Florida Healthy Start Coalition’s nationally-recognized preconception health initiative, welcomed two international maternal and child health experts from the Netherlands for a tour on March 13th, 2017.17265041_1427116503976938_5517774720014864023_n

Eric A.P. Steegers, MD, PhD and Regine P.M. Steegers-Theunissen, MD, PhD, from the university-affiliated medical center Erasmus MC in Rotterdam, Netherlands toured the Magnolia Project and met with several Coalition staff and partners to learn about the local efforts to improve women’s health.

Dr. Steegers is a professor and chair of the Obstetrics and Gynecology Department, while Dr. Steegers-Theunissen is a professor of periconception epidemiology in the Obstetrics and Gynecology and Pediatrics departments.

The tour began in the Magnolia office space, where the Dutch doctors met with staff and learned about the work that the Magnolia does from a community and case management perspective. Community Action Network Coordinator Vanessa Jefferson, discussed how she and community partners meet the participants of the Magnolia Project where they are to supply them with what they need, while Case Manager Anna Matthews, talked about the importance of building relationships with participants.

17309045_1427114753977113_443723927138479211_nDr. Steegers and Dr. Steegers-Theunissen were then given an inside look at the clinical portion of the Magnolia Project, followed by a quick discussion on why preconception health sites, like the Magnolia Project,  are important for women living in Health Zone 1. The clinic offers women birth control, STD testing, as well as prenatal care and information on how to have a healthy pregnancy in an easy-to-access storefront in the community.

The tour continued to the Magnolia Project OASIS where Freedom Coach Sabrina Willis discussed the importance of dealing with toxic stress and how initiatives like Yoga in the Streets are a way for women to cope and relax.

“It’s very interesting that you all implement Yoga into the work that you do here” Dr. Steegers-Theunissen said. “I love that you all address toxic stress and ways to reduce it. It is all so very important to healthy preconception.”17342934_1427114013977187_4694749208964873762_n

Dr. Steegers-Theunissen and Dr. Steegers both gave a presentation to staff and Jersey College nursing students about the importance of including the partner in healthy decision making.

“We developed an app that teaches nutrition and encourages its users to make better health decisions as related to preconception” Dr. Steegers-Theunissen said. “Ninety percent of the pregnancies in the Netherlands are planned, and with launching this app in 2011, we learned that women are more likely to make better health decisions when their partner is included in the process.”

The Magnolia Project was launched in 1999 to address an identified gap in Jacksonville’s system of maternal and child health services – pre- and interconception health. A woman’s health prior to pregnancy was identified through the NEFL Fetal & Infant Mortality Review and Perinatal Periods of Risk model as having the greatest impact on birth outcomes in Jacksonville’s Health Zone 1, which had the region’s highest infant mortality rate at the time. While Jacksonville still has a high infant mortality rate and significant racial disparities, today more babies in Health Zone 1 are living to see their first birthday.