JF&CS News Fall 2014
When you look at Anna* and her bright, happy baby, you would never think that the two were recently homeless. Yet, last year they became one of more than 4,800 families in the emergency assistance shelter program in Massachusetts.
Anna herself never thought she would be homeless. But shortly after her daughter was born, she experienced some set-backs. With her husband in Africa, and no family to support her, Anna and her baby found themselves with nowhere to go and no one to turn to. They began living at the Home Suites Inn in Waltham, which houses many homeless families.
For the new mother, the isolation of living in the hotel felt like a prison. With no access to public transportation and no social connections, Anna began to feel depressed. “I knew something was wrong,” she said. “The feelings I was having were different from the feelings of regular stress.”
To be the mother she wanted to be, Anna needed help, which she found at the JF&CS Center for Early Relationship Support®. She started attending the Postpartum Depression (PPD) Support Group, aptly called “This Isn’t What I Expected.” Anna also received therapeutic visits at the hotel from an Early Connections®clinician.
These support meetings gave Anna a feeling of community that could only come from other mothers like herself. An added benefit was that it gave her something to look forward to each week. She describes arriving for her first PPD group. “Just standing in the JF&CS lobby felt good. The receptionist said, ‘Isn’t it a beautiful day?’ and I smiled and said yes it is!”
In addition to these services, Anna receives weekly visits from Tracy, a home visitor from the JF&CS Visiting Moms® program. Visiting Moms are trained to help mothers gain confidence in their new role as parents. They visit the new mothers in their home – wherever that home might be.
Anna admits that she was nervous meeting Tracy for the first time; she was afraid her Visiting Mom might judge her as a mother. But after meeting Tracy, that fear immediately went away. As Anna says, “With Tracy, I felt relaxed, free, and comfortable. Most of all, I felt human again.”
Through her hard work and with the help of CERS, Anna has worked through much of her depression and is much more confident in her abilities as a mother. The services she received also helped her to move forward with her life. She recently passed the exam to become a registered nurse, something she says she had wanted to do but “just couldn’t put all the pieces together to make happen.”
In April, her husband was able to join her from Africa. The reunited family is now living happily in an apartment in Boston.
Anna is full of gratitude for all of the ways JF&CS has helped her. She says the support she received was “like light in the darkness. Before, I felt alone and lost, without a way forward. The services I got from JF&CS were the light I needed. I just had to follow the light to get on the right path.”
*Name changed to protect privacy.
In honor of our 150th anniversary, JF&CS published a special 150th anniversary newsletter. View a PDF of the entire newsletter online.