Empowering Young Mothers Through Compassionate Care

Say Paw

When she was a high school student in Des Moines, Say Paw discovered she was pregnant. As a Thai refugee, the importance of prenatal care was a new concept for Say, but a caring school nurse began her journey as a new mother planning for a healthy baby.

“That nurse told me about EveryStep, and changed my life,” says Say. “I was so young — I was only 17 at the time, so I really didn’t know what I should do. It was so hard for me and I couldn’t even tell my parents. I was so scared.”

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Finding comfort and confidence
Say soon found comfort and encouragement, along with important prenatal care, from EveryStep. “[The nurse] came to see me every week and told me how to take care of my baby — everything I should know about parenting and how to take care of my baby. It made me feel pretty confident!” With her newfound positivity, Say gave birth to a healthy baby girl. That was nine years ago.

“I was so young — I was only 17 at the time, so I really didn’t know what I should do. It was so hard for me, and I couldn’t even tell my parents. I was so scared.”

Say and her husband learned they were expecting another baby in 2022. “There was a big gap between babies, so everything was new to me again!” Say contacted EveryStep again to help with her important prenatal care and community resources that would help her small family, which now also included a second daughter, make ends meet. Say says EveryStep case manager Mtee Paw has been instrumental in that regard.

Connections that make a difference
“Mtee is amazing! She’s very kind and very open to any question you have,” says Say. “She shares every [community] resource that might help me and every class from EveryStep. She goes above and beyond her role as a case manager to meet the needs of her clients.” Through Mtee, Say has participated in EveryStep’s Baby Bloom and Roll, Baby Roll events; Healthy Start programs; and EveryStep’s Stork’s and Family Nest programs, as well as community resources like food and supply pantries.

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“For example, if went to a parenting class or prenatal class, we earned points we could use at [EveryStep’s] Stork Nest, so it was motivation for us to go. But it was more than just that. We received education about how to be prepared for when we would have the baby, parenting skills and child development. I also learned about safe sleep and car seat safety.”

Assistance when income is tight
Through the points Say earned, she was able to redeem them at EveryStep’s Stork’s Nest store for things like strollers, car seats, diapers, wipes, baby safety kits, laundry detergent and more. “It’s very helpful because we have a low income and everything is expensive!” says Say, who works part-time, while her husband provides the main source of income for their family of five.

“This program is very beneficial to us and I’ve told my friends so it can benefit them, too.”

EveryStep shows up when people need us most, no matter who they are or what circumstances they face. Our care and support programs have led to tangible results for thousands of Iowans who are now leading more stable, fulfilling lives.

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