Lori Pope is a participant in the Azalea Project, a special initiative that works to reduce risk-taking behavior in substance abusing pregnant and parenting women. The project works to break the cycle of substance use and other at-risk behaviors. She shares her experience with the program.
When I was pregnant with my first child, I was referred to the Azalea Project, and I’ve been here ever since. Azalea has and still helps me whenever I’m in need, without casting any judgment. I had a place to stay that was deemed unsuitable for my children and myself. I came to the Azalea Project and they offered to help. They gave us food and clothing. They gave me HIV testing, pregnancy testing and ultimately helped me find a new place to stay.
They helped me mature a lot and overcome a lot of fears. It doesn’t matter if you have any kind of disease, addiction or anything. They are willing to help you and support you. They won’t look at you like your infested or less than. They treat you like a human being and that is what keeps me coming back to the Azalea Project.
They keep track of your pregnancy and make sure that you go to your appointments and take your medication. And if they can’t help you in-house, they can refer you to one of their many resources. For example, I’m currently working on obtaining my GED thanks to the Azalea Project, and I’ll be 41 soon. It’s the encouragement that the case managers give me that keeps me going.
Natasha Wright is a participant in the Healthy Families Jacksonville program, an evidence-based support and coaching program that helps parents provide the safe and stable environments children need for healthy growth and development. She shares her experience with the program.
Healthy Families has really had a positive effect on my household. I’ve been participating in the program for nearly six months, but my Family Support Worker Dorinda Hayes treats me like I’ve known her for a whole life time.
She is wonderful, kind and patient. When my family was going through hard times, she was there to support and give me advice in any way. My kids love when Thursday comes because they know she’ll bring them things to keep them busy while we have our meeting. She’s also easy to talk to. She gives out wonderful advice. Even though it’s something you might not want to hear, it benefits you in a good way.
I’m so happy they gave me the right caseworker. I also wish she didn’t have to leave so soon — When Skya turns five, Ms. Dorinda will not longer be with us.
Skyler Bailey is a participant in the Magnolia Project, a federal Healthy Start initiative focused on improving the health of women before, during and after pregnancy in Jacksonville’s urban core. She shares her experience with the program.
My name is Skyler Bailey and I have been part of the Magnolia Project for a little over two years. I have a 2-year-old, an 11-month-old and another one on the way.
I love being a part of the Magnolia family and always take part in the activities and events they have going on. I also take full advantage of the resources that Magnolia offers like case management, health care services and freedom coach counseling. I have been to many of the classes, including Mothers & Babies and Toxic Stress.
I am a part of the monthly group prenatal care classes and receive all of my prenatal care at Magnolia. I also use the primary care services at Magnolia OASIS and was even able to get my husband to sign up for his primary care there as well. I am also currently enrolled in case management services. I love the help my case worker gives me. She helps when it comes to reaching my personal goals as well as the goals I have for my children.
I am excited for everything Magnolia has to offer and will be offering soon. I am especially looking forward to the Magnolia Baby Shower this September!
Being a part of the Magnolia Project is important to me. It allows me to connect with mothers just like me. I formed quite a few relationships that I hope will continue on because it is very important to have that support. I am thankful for everything Magnolia has done for me and my family throughout the years.
Natasha Jones is a participant in the Nurse-Family Partnership program, an evidence-based home visiting program for first-time moms in Duval, Baker and Clay counties that is implemented through the Healthy Start programs at the Florida Department of Health Duval County and UF Health Jacksonville. She shares her experience with the program and her nurse home visitor.
Nurse-Family Partnership is a great program. I loved that as a first-time mom, I was able to learn my daughter’s growth, from brain development as a newborn to the toddler stage.
NFP has given me the confidence to believe in myself as a first-time mom. The visits to my home where my nurse and I talk about my child’s development as she grows allows me to understand my baby more. Plus, the questions I have never go unanswered. I would recommend NFP to any young adult who is a first-time mom, who needs help or felt alone like me.
The program helped me to set a foundation for how I would like to raise my child by giving good and bad behavior scenarios. It is a program of growth and strength. You are directed in a path that shows you how to grow with your child and the steps to take to adapt the strength to make it.
There is not a day that goes by that NFP is not motivating me as a mother. I had no choice but to succeed, my nurse home visitor wasn’t giving up. Having my nurse in my corner allows me to have confidence and security. I feel more at home knowing I am avoiding things that can harm my child that I didn’t think were a hazard to her. NFP has also taught me to dial a poison center number if my child is exposed to anything.
I have learned a good mother is a mother who tries. It’s not easy but it’s worth it.
If I could I would continue the program until my daughter is 4 years old. NFP is just that amazing. You are never judged. You are taught. Most importantly, you are tasked as a parent. There are weekly development goals to achieve that help you better yourself as a parent and a role model for your child.
Alicia Nelson is a National Health Corps Florida AmeriCorps member serving as a case manager at River Region Human Services. She shares her experience with babies with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome and their moms.
My name is Alicia Nelson and I’m currently completing my service term with the National Health Corps Florida, an AmeriCorps program based out of the Northeast Florida Healthy Start Coalition. So far, I have served over 1,500 hours at River Region Human Services, which provides treatment for individuals and families affected by substance abuse.
Already this year, I have personally met over 50 babies with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome, either through teaching classes at River Region’s outpatient treatment program, providing case management at our inpatient residential facility or as a volunteer Infant Cuddler at UF Health Jacksonville. I have also formed relationships with their mothers who are at various stages of recovery.
Through these relationships, I have seen how difficult it is to manage a high-risk pregnancy, even more so when these mothers encounter friends, families and even medical professionals who consider their addiction to be a moral failure. During my service term, I have been asked many times, “How do we punish the mothers of these babies for what they did?” I am less often asked, “What can we do for the babies born addicted to help them grow into healthy adults?” I am proud of my fellow National Health Corps members and our community partners who are asking and answering this second question.
I’ve seen firsthand that prioritizing the health of the baby goes hand-in-hand with treating the mother with compassion. Providing this kind of care and support goes a long way in improving the health of mothers, infants and reducing the burden of addiction in our community as a whole.