Local program helps change lives of first-time mothers

A person never plans to take a wrong turn. But on this roller coaster called life, the inevitable is bound to happen. Mistakes will be made, disagreements will occur and setbacks will take place. Fortunately, with the care and assistance from others, a new path can be created.

When Theresa Keller became pregnant during a difficult time in her life, she felt that she could not turn to her parents for help. They simply didn’t know what she was going through at the time. She did, however, find the assistance she needed with a Lycoming County United Way-funded program – Susquehanna Health’s Nurse Family Partnership.

“I can’t think of anything more worthwhile than providing the best possible circumstances for the successful arrival of a newborn baby,” said Scott N. Lowery, LCUW executive director. “The Nurse Family Partnership program does just that by assisting low-income first-time mothers with both prenatal care and assistance in parenting skills up until the child is 2 years old. It is a very personal commitment between the mother and the NFP nurses that is proving to be very successful.”

Keller wanted to provide her daughter with the best life she could possibly give to her. She found out about NFP at her first prenatal appointment and called within a day.

“NFP helped me out tremendously with education about what was happening to my body and what was going to come later on, with delivery, breastfeeding and such,” Keller said. “My home nurse, Ali, also told me about other self-help programs such as the Pregnancy Care Center, the Salvation Army’s Project Break Through, the New Choices, New Options program through (Pennsylvania College of Technology). She also was someone I could confide in, she helped me with some personal obstacles in my life by being there for me when I couldn’t turn to anyone else.”

There are so many instances in which the NFP program has been the impetuous that enabled a health pregnancy and increased the bond between the mother, father and baby, Lowery said.

“The unknowns that first-time mothers face can be a scary time,” he said. “Participating in the NFP program provides stability, strength and guidance that otherwise might not be there.”

Keller surmised that without her involvement with NFP, her life would still be headed in the wrong direction.

“I would have never changed my ways when I became pregnant,” she said. “I think I would still be greatly dependent on my family for everything. I would probably be living at my parents’ house, working for them at their family owned diner. I know I would have never gone back to school.”

Most importantly, Keller added, she wouldn’t have any self-confidence or self-esteem if it hadn’t been for Ali and Nurse Family Partnership.

Keller earned a certificate in medical assisting and phlebotomy and is employed at a local doctor’s office. She lives in a small apartment and is saving money to one day buy her own home. She is proud to add that she is continuing to grow as a single mom and as a young adult.

“I have seen first-hand how significant it has been to those who have experienced (Nurse Family Partnership’s) benefits,” Lowery said. “Lives have been literally positively changed by the hands-on help the nurses have given to the new mothers. In many cases, very powerful relationships have been established. Without the funding we are able to provide, fewer new families would be helped. That would be an unwelcomed circumstance that would have negative affects for years to come.”

Keller would like to say “thank you” to Lycoming County United Way donors who make funding for the program possible.

“Even though those words don’t seem enough to express how much I appreciate what they’ve done for me,” she said. “I owe my whole life to them.”

For more information or to make a contribution to Lycoming County United Way, call 323-9448 or visit lcuw.org.