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New mom shares her Step Forward experience

Brianna Preston sits at home, rocking her seven-month-old baby after another sleepless night.

“He doesn’t sleep,” she smiled. “He doesn’t want to miss anything!”

The first-time mom is tired, but happy and relieved to report her son’s feeding tube was recently removed. The baby was born premature in February and couldn’t keep his formula down and kept choking during feedings. Already enrolled with Step Forward, Preston was connected to a pediatrician, who then referred her to a specialist. As an infant, the child had a feeding tube placed in his nose and attended therapy appointments to track and monitor appropriate swallowing.

“When did you register as a client with Step Forward?” our communications team asked.

“My sister was already enrolled,” she explained. “She suggested I ask for help, too.”

Preston had a difficult pregnancy. She felt sick nearly the whole nine months and was hospitalized with COVID-19 while she was expecting.

“My worker was Ms. Washington,” Preston went on, referring to Karen Washington, one of Step Forward’s Family Development Specialists at the Southeast Neighborhood Opportunity Center.

“And when I tell you I loved Ms. Washington, I loved Ms. Washington. She would call and check in, whether it was her day to work, not to work, in the morning, on the weekend and in the evenings. She would call to check up on us and that made me like the program even more. She always went out of her way. It showed she genuinely cared not only for me, but for my son.”

Pregnant, Preston was connected with the Baby and Mommy Support Program, otherwise known as BAMS. There, she had the opportunity to network with other expecting mothers.

“I learned how to get in touch with certain people, needing certain things. That helped a lot,” she said.

Step Forward was able to provide emergency food assistance, baby clothing (donated from the Providence House), individual counseling and after Preston delivered, connected her with Workforce Development for Global Support Services, so she could secure a better paying job.

“I would inform other people about this program,” she said. “As a matter of fact, I already did! There was a lady on Facebook who I didn’t know personally, but I told her to sign up. Babies are expensive. I explained all the stuff I got help with. Hopefully (Step Forward) can do the same for her.”

If you are interested in counseling, the Baby and Mommy Support Program, or other personal development opportunities, click here. Services are free of charge for income-eligible Cuyahoga County residents.

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