Cuyahoga County – The Step Forward Communications and Outreach team first met Brittany McKown at the West Neighborhood Opportunity Center. The NOC was celebrating its one-year Anniversary with food, games and raffles and McKown was playing with her daughter.
“I found out about the agency through a friend,” she said. “She had said, ‘this might really help you. They work with you, and they have a lot of resources.’”
McKown recalls attending a Step Forward event, where she ultimately met her Family Development Specialist.
“We connected right away,” McKown remembered. “I knew being low-income, it was going to be hard for me to raise my daughter on my own. I have support from my mother and my sister, but I felt it was my responsibility as her mother to take that on.”
McKown had been trying to have a baby and was elated when she finally saw a positive pregnancy test.
“I didn’t know what to expect, but I was very happy,” she went on.
McKown was deemed a high-risk pregnancy. Doctors monitored the baby’s size closely throughout the nine months. About halfway through, McKown was connected with Step Forward’s Baby and Mommy Support Program, otherwise known as BAMS.
“I got to meet with other mothers. Each month, we sat down and talked about being pregnant and what it was like. We talked about the challenges. There were other women there who had prior children, so it was nice to connect with them and get advice about what to expect,” she explained. “Some were married, some were single and doing it alone. It really helped with my pregnancy to know everything I was feeling was normal.”
McKown delivered a healthy baby girl.
In 2022, she returned to Step Forward for assistance.
“I really needed help. I had lost my psychiatrist in 2021, I was dealing with some legal problems. I was struggling,” McKown recognized.
McKown was connected with a case manager and started attending counseling. She has learned to take things on one at a time, so she doesn’t get overwhelmed.
“Since then, I have noticed I have a lot more motivation, self-respect and determination. I realize I am capable of doing things, I just need to stay on track and find people who are positive to help push me in the right direction,” she said. “I went through so much trauma being high-risk and being in an abusive relationship with my child’s father. I didn’t know how to help myself, but Step Forward was involved and now, they’re like a family to me.”
If you would like more information about Step Forward's Baby and Mommy Support Program, counseling, or other personal development opportunities, click here.