Sandra walks swiftly down the street with her 3-month-old son, Asim, held closely in her arms. She stops in front of a large, beige building with a blue banner hanging above the double-doors. Upon entering, a group of staff excitedly jumps up to greet her, cooing over the sight of her baby.
Sandra first visited HELP of Southern Nevada during her pregnancy. She came to learn more about prenatal nutrition and to attend newborn care classes. Sandra continued to go to classes and, prior to COVID restrictions, sometimes stopped by just to visit, saying, “The staff here have become like family.”
As the Las Vegas community continues to grow at a rapid pace, so too have the programs and services that HELP of Southern Nevada provides. Their Baby First service helps pregnant women in need attain proper prenatal care and accurate information to ensure that babies are born at a healthy birth weight.
Kelly Robinson, the Chief Social Services Officer at HELP, indicated that lack of insurance and limited access to affordable and nutritious food are primary challenges experienced by women who come to HELP. The Baby First service addresses both of these barriers by helping women navigate insurance plans and offering nutrition education and Vitamin Angels prenatal vitamins and minerals – all free of charge.
Donna and Lakeesia, Baby First Services Specialists, taught a cooking class for women in the program. “The mothers all loved it! They went home and usually made the meals they learn for their families. Even some of the mothers started craving what we taught them to cook, which is great when what we were teaching them is to cook healthy meals,” Lakeesia said.
The partnership with Vitamin Angels and access to prenatal vitamins and minerals has meant that HELP can use their limited resources in other ways, like expanding the number of staff within Baby First Services. The president of HELP, Foilala, said, “this partnership is vital in that it allows us to do more, serve more, and of course see more healthy babies born… [Prenatals were] something that we knew we needed to provide, but it was an expense that just was too great to undertake.”
Many mothers who have taken the prenatals have noticed the difference in their bodies during pregnancy. Candice, who is expecting twins, feels that the prenatals have improved her health and her babies, “The twins are doing great. They’re growing, they’re right on point, so I know that they are getting the nutrients that we all need”. Similarly, Sandra shared that the prenatals not only improve her pregnancy, but they were a meaningful part of her experience with HELP and its staff.
Showing up every day for their community takes remarkable tenacity. And yet Kelly shares it is her greatest passion, “I love what I do; I love giving back to the community. And I just think that everyone deserves a healthy life. We have too many resources, and we need to do better as a whole. So if I can be a part of that, then I want to be a part of that, and I want to help as many people as possible.”