Every night when I tuck my children into bed, we pray that our family is safe, healthy and happy. And just 10 minutes down the road, I know that mothers and children at HomeFront Family Preservation Center emergency housing in Ewing, NJ, are doing exactly the same thing. While it seems that most families in Mercer County are living comfortably, there are countless invisible families struggling to find food and shelter and also seeking quality primary care and emergency services for their children.

Staff at HomeFront reached out to HHI in the winter of 2013 requesting support because many of their families were calling 911 and visiting emergency rooms on a daily basis. Fortunately, most families at HomeFront have insurance and primary care doctors. However, there seemed to be a disconnect with when and how to navigate medical systems.

To meet the needs expressed by moms and shelter staff, HHI developed a healthcare education series called “Taking Charge of Your Child’s Health.” On a weekly basis, we recruit local healthcare professionals from CHOP Care Network sites in New Jersey and Bucks County, PA, to present topics such as: how to choose and use a primary care doctor, what to do when your child is sick, acute illnesses, asthma and allergy, child development and behavior, safety, and nutrition. Dynamic question-and-answer sessions follow, and moms and staff respond enthusiastically and appreciatively. The volunteer nurses, doctors, psychologists and therapists have been incredibly engaging, compassionate and informative and have thoroughly enjoyed their interactions with the incredible mothers and children.

HHI is pleased to develop such a strong partnership with leadership and staff at HomeFront, who have been collaborative and invested in every step of the creation, implementation and evaluation of the project. As always, HHI is also reaching out to the local community to help build and strengthen bridges and promote long-term, sustainable relationships to help empower families and shelter staff.

When I walk out of HomeFront on Thursdays and see children playing on the same swing sets that my own children have played on, I feel even more fortunate that talented HHI volunteers can support families in my own backyard.

— Melissa Bennett, MD