May 30, 2023
Pregnant and Afraid to Ask for Help, Bernadita Found Trust with EveryStep
According to the most recent statistics available from the American Immigration Council, Iowa is home to over 175,000 immigrants. Nearly 25% of all immigrants in Iowa do not speak English, making it difficult for them to navigate the customs, healthcare options and assistance available to them.
In a small home with baby bottles drying near the kitchen sink and her infant son napping in the next room, Bernadita cries. She cries as many parents do when they feel overwhelmed and overtired, but Bernadita is also remembering the challenges she has faced.
Originally from Mexico, Bernadita is waiting for her permanent resident card, commonly known as a “green card,” to arrive in the mail. For many years, Bernadita worried about what would happen to her children if she were deported. She was also nervous that her children’s father, convicted of abusing her, would arrive at the door.
Then Bernadita found EveryStep and Healthy Start Case Manager Matilde Aleman.
“She has helped me a lot,” Bernadita says through interpretation by Matilde, who is bilingual. “She helps me read the papers and fill out forms, and she helps me make appointments.” Matilde also helped Bernadita apply for her permanent resident card. “Getting that will help with my kids – it will help my kids so much,” says Bernadita.
With an elementary-aged child and an infant, Bernadita’s income as a fast food worker doesn’t go far. EveryStep helps there, too, with supplies she receives as a participant in EveryStep’s Stork’s Nest program. Participants like Bernadita earn points for activities like attending WIC meetings and pediatrician appointments, and then “shop” with those points in the Stork’s Nest store for things like car seats, baby bottles and other necessities.
“When I was pregnant with my oldest daughter, I didn’t get the help I needed because people told me if I did, they would take my kids away,” says Bernadita. When she was expecting her second child, things changed. “I started asking around and I was told that wasn’t true. Then I learned about EveryStep and they help me with what I need.”
EveryStep case manager Matilde also helped Bernadita find support as a domestic violence survivor by introducing her to L.U.N.A. (Latinas Unidas Por Un Nuevo Amanecer), a statewide Iowa organization that is dedicated to providing resources and services to survivors of domestic abuse, sexual assault and human trafficking in the Latinx community. With L.U.N.A.’s help, Bernadita filed for and received a protection order prohibiting her former abuser from coming near her. She also receives counseling there.
Bernadita’s experience has led her to tell other immigrant women about EveryStep. “I know one lady who is here with a baby that is not caught up with immunizations. She doesn’t know what to do and I told her EveryStep can help.”
EveryStep’s innovative care and support programs prioritize people over profit, and ensure people like Bernadita and her children don’t fall through the cracks. Through compassionate care, EveryStep helps meet urgent needs so more expensive challenges don’t arise later. To support families like Bernadita’s, please give to EveryStep’s nonprofit mission at www.everystep.org/donate.
If you or someone you know is struggling to find the support they need, please contact EveryStep at 515-558-9946 or complete the commitment-free, confidential “Find Care” form on EveryStep’s website at www.everystep.org/find-care. EveryStep staff will follow up with a phone call to answer your questions and provide assistance.