Bright Beginnings Increases Outreach To New Haven's Young Mothers

April 06, 1998

NEW HAVEN, Conn., April 6, 1998--The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven has awarded a $50,000 grant for Bright Beginnings to expand its volunteer-based support program for vulnerable inner-city women and their babies. Bright Beginnings strives to improve the well being of mothers and their infants by mentoring mothers to encourage good health care and parenting practices.

"We believe that Bright Beginnings can serve as a model to help alleviate some of the substantial health problems faced by underserved, poor families," says John M. Leventhal, M.D., professor of pediatrics at Yale University School of Medicine. He also serves as the medical director of Bright Beginnings, which has assisted more than 125 families in the Greater New Haven area during the past two and a half years.

Bright Beginnings pairs trained volunteers with pregnant women, ages 15 to 24 years, who receive prenatal care at the Women's Center at Yale-New Haven Hospital. Together, the volunteers and mothers-to-be focus on the importance of timely health care visits and immunizations for babies. They also address appropriate use of emergency medical services, ways to minimize the number of childhood injuries, encourage early stimulation of babies, and the value of parental self-esteem.

Elizabeth Demir, a Woodbridge, Conn., resident who is a founding member and chairperson of the Bright Beginnings Advisory Committee, comments, "The Community Foundation grant will allow us to expand the number of successful matches this promising program can sustain each year."

All of the Bright Beginnings mentors are women who live in the greater New Haven area. Ranging from age 21 to 75, the mentors represent diverse backgrounds. Some are church members, medical and nursing students, African-American sorority members and career women. To volunteer as a mentor, call the Bright Beginnings coordinator, Lyla Johnson, at (203) 785-7597.

The Foundation's grant was awarded to the Friends of the Children's Hospital at Yale-New Haven through its Ellen D. Galpin Fund.

"We thank the Community Foundation for recognizing the role of Bright Beginnings in our community and for providing support to enable Bright Beginnings to continue to pursue its mission," says Janet Weiswasser, executive director of the Friends. "Bright Beginnings not only captures the spirit of volunteerism, but it also brings about an increased understanding of the strengths and problems of our underserved, inner-city population."

The Friends of the Children's Hospital, a non-profit, volunteer organization which is part of the medical school's department of pediatrics, is dedicated to improving the health and well-being of children through advocacy, outreach, education, research and clinical care.

Since 1928, donors to the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven have built a permanent endowment currently valued at approximately $195 million. In 1996, the Foundation's board of directors distributed more than $5 million from more than 330 different named funds supporting grants in health, community and economic development, the arts and culture, and other vital areas.
P.O. BOX 7612
NEW HAVEN, CT 06519-0612
(203) 785-5824 FAX (203) 785-4327

Yale University School of Medicine

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