Program's 'mentor moms' help mothers, babies stay healthy - Catholic Courier

Program’s ‘mentor moms’ help mothers, babies stay healthy

During the day Michelle Dourie does her best to help moms in need in her job as a licensed social worker supporting pregnant and parenting women through Catholic Charities of Livingston County’s Community of Caring program.


But Dourie, the program’s director, noted that when she’s not available, the moms she assists often need a friend to call for empathy.

"During evenings or weekends, women who are really struggling with a baby needed that support — that mother figure," Dourie said.

That’s why a new CCLC program called Mentor Moms that has grown out of the Community of Caring program is looking for adult women mentors to provide support to pregnant women and new mothers in their teens and 20s. Many of the young mothers may be struggling with poverty, anxiety, depression or other issues, even as they try to provide for their children, Dourie said.

"They want to be good parents," she observed.

The mentors would be there as a sounding board and a source of encouragement, and also would drive the mothers to doctors’ appointments, according to Elaine Buzzinotti, Mentor Moms’ program coordinator. Although experienced moms are being sought, nonmothers who have experience working with children also would be welcomed, said Buzzinotti, who has been meeting with area churches to recruit mentors.

The program asks for at least a one-year commitment from its mentors with at least four to six hours of in-person or on-the-phone contact with mentees per month. Mentors also will be trained on what the mentor relationship should and should not be.

"They are less than teachers and more than companions," Buzzinotti remarked.

A major goal of the new program is to foster healthy pregnancies and promote healthy futures for moms and babies, she said.

Dourie, a member of Livingston County’s Maternal Child Health Committee, noted that studies have shown that mothers in the county have a higher rate of smoking while pregnant, and may have poor nutrition, poor dental health and obesity while pregnant. Mothers in the county also may have a lower rate of breast-feeding. These factors can contribute to at-risk pregnancies, premature births, low birth weights and infant mortality, Buzzinotti said.

Mentors will be asked to pass along pamphlets and information to pregnant women to encourage them to try focusing on their health and the health of their babies.

"We are hoping to find mentors with experience with breast-feeding so they can provide that personal experience and knowledge," Dourie said.

Funding for the program has come from the March of Dimes, the Rochester Community Foundation and from a Rochester-based foundation that has asked to remain anonymous, Buzzinotti said.

"The goal is for a healthy and successful pregnancy and a healthy baby," she said.

EDITOR’S NOTE: For details about Mentor Moms, call 585-658-4466.

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