HHI supports Jane Addams Place baby shower

On Oct. 27, 2017, volunteers and staff came together to hold a baby shower at Jane Addams Place, one of Homeless Health Initiative's partner shelters. The basement at Jane Addams was filled with diapers, onesies, blankets and much more for the mothers and their babies. All items were donated through an online baby registration. There was a substantial need for this event, as 11 residents at the shelter were pregnant or new mothers.

Group of women who participated in the events Jam-packed diaper bags were among the gifts for new moms at Jane Addams Place, thanks to the eff orts of former resident Kameelah Davis (orange long-sleeve top). Photos courtesy of Krista Bacchieri. Former Jane Addams Place resident Kameelah Davis came up with the baby shower idea and made it happen. While she was a resident at Jane Addams, Davis attended a baby shower hosted by a church. Although she was extremely grateful, she recalled having to carry her gifts across town while very pregnant. She imagined how wonderful it would be to have a baby shower at Jane Addams and knew she wanted to make it happen “for all the women (she’d) come to call friends, and for all the women who would follow behind in these most unfortunate footsteps.”

The baby shower is just one of Davis’ many achievements. She received the Dignity Award from the Lutheran Settlement House (LSH) at its 2015 Women of Courage event, and after her departure from Jane Addams Place, she joined the LSH board. She has been a speaker at various venues, including City Hall, where she raised awareness of family homelessness. Currently, she is enrolled in online classes on social policy. She says, “I found out that I am most happy when I am using my voice and helping others.”

Breastfeeding-friendly shelters initiative update

HHI’s Breastfeeding Friendly Shelters Initiative was very active last year! In addition to our quarterly committee meetings, Melissa Johnson presented our 10 Steps to a Breastfeeding-friendly Shelter Policy at Philadelphia’s Office of Homeless Services (OHS) Family Provider meeting. We are excited to have the backing of the OHS in our mission to help shelters support women who are pregnant or have babies in their breastfeeding journey.

To this end, HHI and our community partners are working with and sharing information with shelter staff so they better understand the benefits of breastfeeding and how they can develop a culture that supports breastfeeding mothers. We have begun these dialogues at Jane Addams Place and HomeFront Family Preservation Center.

Throughout the year, HHI partnered with Maternity Care Coalition and Nikki Lee, a lactation consultant to the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, to provide mom-baby educational/supportive sessions for women living in shelter.

Finally, we laid the groundwork in 2017 and are thrilled to collaborate with the Public Health Management Corp. (PHMC). The goal of the collaboration is to conduct research to explore shelter resident and staff perspectives about barriers to creating a breastfeeding-friendly environment for mothers experiencing homelessness. PHMC’s research findings are intended to support our work, by generating discussion about policies, trainings, education and other interventions that could increase breastfeeding rates among women residing in shelter.

NICU volunteers continue to teach at Mother’s Home in Darby, PA

Mother’s Home, a shelter in Darby, PA, serves pregnant mothers and their infants up to 6 months of age. Nurses from the Harriet and Ronald Lassin Newborn/Infant Intensive Care Unit (N/IICU) at CHOP have been volunteering for the past several years to educate pregnant mothers at the shelter.

N/IICU nurses Heather Hopkins, BSN, RNC-NIC, and Alison Kovacs, MSN, RNC-NIC, CBC, organize monthly visits of nurses through the Delaware Valley Association of Neonatal Nurses (DVANN).

These nurses, most who are from CHOP, provide monthly health education workshops on topics such as: infant care, safety, breastfeeding, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)/safe sleep, infant CPR, developmental milestones, colds, flu, germs, stress management/coping, rashes and when to call the pediatrician. Five to 10 young mothers attend each session.