Building a better land by keeping babies alive and their mothers healthy — that's the goal of one local organization.
Here's why it is important work in our community: Cuyahoga County's infant mortality rates are among the highest in the United States. Those same statistics show Black babies are hit particularly hard.
While pregnant during the pandemic, Shawndra Folmar struggled to find resources.
"I was going into my third trimester not having help. A lot of the programs were shut down," said Folmar.
The mother of six found the support she needed at Pregnant with Possibilities.
“When I called them and I had almost lost faith and they answered that phone and they are like yes, we can help you," said Folmar.
The Maple Heights nonprofit is the brainchild of Veranda Rodgers.
Her goal: inspire every client to birth possibilities.
“So, give birth to their hopes and dreams, their aspirations, but also making sure they have a positive birth outcome," said Rodgers.
For many women of color, that's challenging.
“African American women die at almost three times the rate of white women when it comes to childbirth and delivery," Rodgers said.
She said she wants to see the healthcare system make changes "that are more geared to helping African American families and being able to advocate on their behalf."
While she waits, Rodgers is doing what she can to help moms to safely grow their families.
“They offer yoga classes, they give financial advice, they give mental advice on really looking into yourself so you can become a better mother, a better parent," said Folmar.
By just reducing stress for moms-to-be, Rodgers said more of them and their babies can be saved.
That's why Pregnant with Possibilities hosts self-care pop-up events.
"You can get complimentary massages, you can get self-care activities like coloring pages, we'll be doing some chair yoga to talk about the benefits of having a stress-free life," said Rodgers.
Not having to worry about those essential items once the baby arrives can also help reduce stress for moms.
During the first five months of the pandemic, Rodgers's organization helped 350 families.
“Diapers, baby wipes, food and formula during that time," said Rodgers.
That kind of care and commitment has created a lasting impact on clients like Folmar.
“What I’ve seen her do for the community and the heart and soul and passion she has for young mothers motivates me to do better, to find purpose in what I’m here for, to find purpose in my children," said Folmar.