“It was a bad week.” SherReece Johnson thinks back to just two months ago when she discovered that her dryer had caught fire, causing minor damage in the home and burning all of her daughter’s clothes. On top of that, two days after the fire, her bank account was hacked, draining all of her savings. “I wasn’t sure what to do. I literally had nothing.” SherReece is no stranger to overcoming challenging times. She had faced eviction after a difficult period juggling being a young working mom and finding childcare. She spent weeks couch-surfing with her toddler before moving into a temporary shelter.
For Imani Bowden, finding out she was pregnant was a shock. This first pregnancy came so quickly after she and her partner started trying. Excited and filled with questions, she eagerly went to the doctor. The experience didn’t feel right for Imani, she felt rushed and that the doctor didn’t care individually about the patients, questions, and experiences. Imani’s partner had a mentor who had gone to Community of Hope and had given birth at the birth center. “I had no clue what it was or what it was about... my first appointment at Community of Hope, they answered all of my questions.” At 20 weeks, Imani became a Community of Hope patient and was on her way to having a healthy, happy baby.
When Jessie Lopez transferred to Community of Hope’s Family Health and Birth Center, she was hopeful that the health center would meet all her birthing needs. “It took me to my third trimester to know what type of birth I wanted. The more I talked to my current doctors, the more I knew they weren’t able to fulfill my needs.” Jessie was firm on having a natural birthing experience this time around because her first child was a cesarean delivery.
You never know what you are willing to sacrifice for your family until you have no options left.
For DC mom, Dana Horne, making the decision to jump from a moving vehicle just to escape her abuser was the choice she made to save her life and build a better one for her children. “I was tired. I didn’t want my kids to see that abuse anymore. I promised myself the very next time the opportunity presents itself, I’m jumping....and I did it! I called the police for the first time, and I was not afraid for the first time!”
After a fearful first birthing experience at a hospital, the Milling-Robinson family came to Community of Hope’s Family Health and Birth Center in 2016. Today, Marcus Robinson, husband and father of now four children, says making the choice to switch healthcare providers was one of the best decisions his family made. “Community of Hope was very open and welcoming. At our first visit, it didn’t feel like they were looking or judging my family. There was more of getting to know who we are and desire to know what our birthing plans for our family were.”
LaDonnae Wells was in her second trimester of pregnancy when she connected with Community of Hope. As a first-time mom, LaDonnae was filled with uncertainty and fear that made her doubt her ability to take care of her baby. But that all changed when she entered Community of Hope’s early childhood Home Visiting program.
A divine connection with a midwife brought Kara Simpson to Community of Hope’s (COH) Family Health and Birth Center. Kara is originally from Gastonia, NC, but relocated to DC as her first travel assignment as a labor and delivery nurse. As Kara worked towards her long-term goal of becoming a midwife, she also became the mentee of one of COH’s midwives, Tracie. “She really provided me with sisterhood and friendship. She’s been a sounding board and always gave good advice when I was applying for schools.”
Myla Watley is 36 weeks pregnant and glowing. Though she has had a relatively easy pregnancy, she - like most first time mothers - is nervous about the unknown and has many questions about what is ahead. She met her husband while finishing her degree and moved back to the DC area to be closer to her parents for when they started their family. "We weren’t necessarily planning to get pregnant, but we weren’t not either. It didn’t take very long – 4 months. When I found out, I immediately Googled Black OBs because of the Black maternal mortality rate and other things you hear.”
Anisa was in and out of the foster care system growing up. In her home state of North Carolina, she was constantly moving from home to home. Now a mom of four young children, she had little confidence that she could provide anything different for her children, as she has always known a transient life. When she was introduced to Community of Hope, that changed.
As we continue to celebrate Black History Month and honor local black leaders who have made history, Community of Hope had the pleasure of speaking with Eric Holder, the first African American Attorney General of the United States. Mr. Holder was not only a leading federal official responsible for the protection of security, rights, and interests of the American people – he is also a DC local committed to making a difference in the lives of Washingtonians!