For Immediate Release: June 13, 2011
Contact Person: Diane Lee, PIO, 301-334-7730
Making Community Connections
Christina and James Lewis live in an apartment in downtown Oakland with Keyona, their 16-month old daughter, and the family cat, Junior. James works in construction with his father and Christina is a stay-at-home mom. Life for this family was not always so secure. James, who had just returned to Garrett County , was having trouble finding suitable work and had a new baby on the way and 17 year old Christina was in need of housing, pregnant, and had not yet finished high school. Although they were both excited to be parents, Christina and James knew they faced many challenges ahead.
In May of 2009, when she was 6-weeks pregnant, Christina and James met Maria Friend, R.N., a Nurse Home Visitor with the Garrett County Health Department - Early Care - Nurse Family Partnership Program. The program supports first-time low-income mothers, to help them have healthy babies, reach their fullest potential as parents, and attain economic self-sufficiency. With Maria's guidance Christina and James developed a plan for their future.
Maria connected the family to housing assistance through the Garrett County Community Action Committee and in August of 2009, the couple moved into an apartment they could afford. On December 16, 2009, they were married and on January 21, 2010, they celebrated the birth of their daughter Keyona.
Christina did not let being a busy new mother stop her, she completed driver's education classes and obtained her license with help from the Garrett County Department of Social Services. She enrolled in the Early Care Home Based Adult Education program and with lots of hard work, and support from James, her teacher Karen Keefer, and Maria, Christina realized her dream of receiving a high school diploma through GED testing.
Another wonderful accomplishment for the family was that Christina was able to give Keyona the gift of breastfeeding for an entire year without formula supplementation. But the most rewarding accomplishment of all is that Keyona is a healthy, happy child who is excelling in her development.
Finally, even the family cat, Junior, benefited from the Nurse Family Partnership Program when Maria connected the family to HART for Animals Spay/Neuter Clinic.
“I just pointed the family in the right direction and they did all the rest,” said Maria. “James has supported Christina to work hard and achieve her goals and the family works together on the goals they have yet to accomplish.”
When asked how the family has benefited from the Nurse Family Partnership Program, James said, “We would not be together as a family, there was so much stress. Maria helps us during the tough times, she is always there.”
“The program has helped me love being a parent and I am always excited for the visits to begin,” Christina said. “Maria makes me feel like I am doing my best to be a good mother to my baby.”
Christina and James have much to be proud of and thankful for. Through their hard work and resolve, the support of the Nurse Family Partnership Program, and help from community resources, they have been able to realize a better life for themselves and their daughter. The family's journey continues, they plan to move to their own trailer later this year, and Christina is hoping to find a job and return to school to major in Early Childhood Education. Christina hopes to become a licensed child care provide.
The Garrett County Nurse Family Partnership Program is one of the Garrett County Partnership for Children and Families, Inc. Early Care Programs which are Grant funded though the Governor's Office for Children and administered by the Garrett County Health Department. If you would like more information about this program or other home visiting programs that support Garrett County families call 301-334-7720 or 895-3111.
All material copyright Garrett County Health