How did you get involved with Bootheel Babies and Families?

My degree is in nursing, and I worked at Southeast Medical Center  starting in 2011. I started working part time at the Regional Healthcare Foundation in 2015, which is where I was introduced to BBF and the infant mortality initiative.

I personally was a participant in the Mother-to-Mother program – I had my daughter when I was 18 – and became a volunteer mentor after I finished college. They asked me to come on staff and I’m happy to keep promoting many of the things I learned about prenatal care, safe sleep, purple crying, etc.

What is the most important service you provide?

I enjoy listening to new moms and sharing knowledge. Education is super important, and you have to help them feel safe opening up to new ideas. You don’t know what you don’t know. Being a parent is stressful enough; I know that from being a young mom. When they asked me if I wanted to be a part of this initiative, there was no question.

What challenges are new moms facing the most on Stoddard County?

Right now our moms are struggling with stress. We recently did a survey with our moms and asked them where our focus should be, and a lot of them said the stress they feel during the pregnancy or post-partum. Dealing with Covid has also been difficult.

We help them develop healthy coping skills and work together to figure things out. We talk about what works best for them as individual mothers.

What are you excited about?

We’re working on creating an easy-to-use resource list for our moms who are expecting or have infants. We have a lot of good resources in Stoddard County, but people can’t take advantage of them if they don’t know what’s available to them.

The moms tend to get a lot of information all at once when they sign up for our programs and it might feel stressful and overwhelming. We want to integrate our resources between the agencies so the services are user-friendly.

It’s February and many people think of this as the season of love. What’s the most important way a mom can show love for her baby?

 I think learning to make self-care a priority is such an important thing. Learning to take care of your own mental health, getting sleep, asking for help with you need it. It’s necessary if you’re going to be the best parent possible. That’s the most loving thing you can do for your baby.

What was your first job?

I worked at Town & Country as a cashier in Dexter when I was 16. I learned customer service, how to deal with people, and social skills. I also got the desire to keep working in the community.

What are you binge watching right now?

I watched “Queen’s Gambit,” but I really love to read. Mary Higgins Clark is my favorite. I’m glad to be at a point in my life where I have time to sit down with a book! The last I read of hers was “Pieces of My Heart.”