YWCA Empowers First-Time Mothers

Angelica is one of many in Dallas’ low-income population, and at age 13, she found out she was pregnant.

Now, five years later, Angelica has earned her high school diploma, an associate’s degree, and is working toward a nursing degree at the University of Texas at Arlington. Her son, Sebastian, is 4 years old and already learning to read.

She owes the success, in part, to the YWCA of Metropolitan Dallas.

 “She should have been a statistic and so should Sebastian,” said YWCA CEO Jennifer Ware.

Angelica was part of the YWCA’s Nurse-Family Partnership program, which targets low-income, first-time mothers. The mom is partnered with a registered nurse from the YWCA staff, who guides the mother sometime within her first 26 weeks of pregnancy until the baby is 2 years old. During that time, the nurse makes more than 60 home visits, at first making sure the mother and baby are progressing healthily, and later moving the family toward self-sufficiency.

“We didn’t make Angelica who she is. She made herself who she is,” Ware said. “We just gave her all the tools, resources, and support to be able to do that, and that’s a little bit amazing.”

Ware has been with the organization since 2009, and from the start has been trying to get the word out about what it has to offer. Along with the Nurse-Family Partnership program, the YWCA supports Dallas women through its Women’s Health and Financial Empowerment programs.

The Women’s Health program helps women who are uninsured or underinsured get mammograms, connect with healthcare professionals, and get funding to seek treatment if they are diagnosed with breast cancer, which has been the case with nine YWCA women in the past 16 months.

The Financial Empowerment program is the broadest of the three, and, among other things, includes a financial empowerment workshop series, individualized financial coaching, and a match savings program.

Stephany Coleman discovered the YWCA while looking for volunteer opportunities. She started out teaching the financial empowerment workshop and is now the YWCA’s financial education coordinator.

“You really get the chance to see people’s lives change,” Coleman said. “You see people grow, and I think you grow as well.”

The programs are offered at more than 20 nonprofit agencies in the area because of the lack of space at YWCA’s headquarters, which are tucked away in a 12-story office building.

The organization is working to establish its own space in the community. The building will include a roomy corporate office, training and coaching rooms, a computer lab with Internet access, and more.

“There are a few hurdles we’ve hit and we’re trying to figure out our strategy to get over that hurdle,” Ware said. “The best part is knowing that we’re all working together to help move women and families forward.”

This story appears in the August issue of Park Cities People, on stands now.

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