Amanda was six months pregnant with her son Drake when she moved to New Hampshire with her husband and daughters, Brianna (6) and Isabella (2). “We came up here with the clothes on our back practically. I didn’t have care – prenatal or anything. My upstairs neighbor said, ‘Why don’t you go to Families First? They’ll take care of you.’ It took me a couple of months before I stopped dragging my feet.”
She wasn’t dragging her feet, though. Like many of our clients, Amanda had no transportation. However, she discovered once she called us that we weren’t going to let that be an obstacle to her getting the care she needed. Families First staff work with clients to overcome hurdles that may prevent a person from seeking care – helping with transportation, assisting with paperwork for Medicaid coverage, offering free child care during appointments, or just being a supportive guide for people who feel apprehensive. Amanda benefited right away from the well-coordinated services our team provides. “When I first came here, I went to the social worker, then I went to the nutritionist, then I went to the counselor, and then I went to my nurse. My first visit was about four hours long, which was nice. They took really good care of me. I loved it.”
Amanda’s children now come here for pediatric care, and she’s encouraging her husband to become a patient too. She also made her first, tentative, visit to our Dental Center. Experiences in her past had made her insecure and fearful. After hearing enough times that “your mouth is in horrible condition and you’re in danger of losing all your teeth,” she had given up. “Then, I came here and it changed all around.” Our dental staff instructed her on ways to improve her oral hygiene and, more importantly for Amanda, did so in an encouraging, positive way.
Amanda also sees Astrid, one of our counselors. She speaks candidly about this. “When I first came to see Astrid two months ago, I was very, umm … angry. One time, I was having a bad morning and I called. Astrid talked to me for a half an hour. Just to calm me down. She talked to me about apologizing to my six-year-old. I was getting angry with her and I just … I couldn’t cope. I couldn’t settle down. So, I picked up my phone and called Astrid. She’s teaching me how to settle down on my own. I’m not as stressed out. It’s going great.” Astrid suggested Amanda attend Babytime, our Tuesday-morning group for infants and their caregivers. Amanda’s face lights up when she speaks of her experiences in the group. “Astrid thought it would be a good fit because I’m a stay-at-home mom and I don’t know anybody. The first couple of months, I just sat there and listened to the stories. It’s amazing, watching the babies grow. Then, two weeks ago, I just started talking about … me! I’ve become friends with one of the moms. Now we see each other outside of group. It’s so helpful.”
Amanda also has a home visitor, Melodie. Families First’s home visitors help families identify needs, access services, and learn skills to reduce stress and improve family life. They also provide support and education about child development to help parents understand their children’s needs. “Melodie is awesome. We’ve been discussing my financial situation – how to manage money better,” Amanda says. “I didn’t have an ID, and she took me right to the DMV and we took care of it. She’s given me things to do with the kids and, oh, so much! Before, I didn’t have any routine. The girls would go to bed whenever they were ready. When I started coming here, I heard about other moms with two-year-olds and four-year-olds who sit down at night around 6:00, 6:30 and read them stories and get them ready for bed. We started doing that. Now we have a whole dresser full of books and I let them pick three books a night.”
“If my neighbor hadn’t told me about Families First, I wouldn’t have followed up on prenatal care. I don’t think I would be going to dental or mental health or have a doctor. I don’t think I’d have any of that. And it’s helped. It’s helped a lot. It’s the best care I’ve ever had in my 26 years of life.” Amanda feels a lot of gratitude, not just for the care she receives but also for the people who support our mission. One step at a time, Amanda is choosing the best path for herself and her family.