Last week on June 3rd, Open Arms was deeply honored to receive the Human Services Coalition award for Innovative Program.
The following is a transcript from the awards ceremony. We are pleased – and humbled – to receive this award, and know that it is the result of deep commitment to serving our clients and our community.
If you are interested in seeing some of the other award winners for this year, please visit the Seattle Human Services Coalition Awards web page.
Here’s the transcript of the award.
Innovative Program Award
Germaine Covington – MC, Introduction of Innovative Program Award:
Our next award celebrates creativity through unique programs and services developed by agencies and community based organizations to respond to emerging or existing needs. The Innovative Program award is presented to an organization that has implemented a new program, or substantially re-designed program within the past 5 years and has creatively used resources and has demonstrated a commitment to providing culturally relevant resources.
Now, please join me in welcoming Seattle City Councilmember Sally Clark who will be presenting the Innovative Program Award to Open Arms Perinatal Services.
Councilmember Sally Clark:
Open Arms Perinatal Services provides birth doula services to low-income women, women of color, refugee and immigrant women and teens which help support, educate, respect, honor and empower women and their families throughout the childbearing year and beyond. The programs’ goals are to decrease infant mortality rates, especially for Latina and African American women who are disproportionally affected and to provide the opportunity for more women with empowering birth experiences that usher them into motherhood feeling prepared and successful in advocating for themselves and their children.
Often, new parents are unaware of what constitutes normal newborn growth and development and normal postpartum recovery for the mother. Moreover, immigrant and refugee women often face additional challenges because they are in an unfamiliar land, with unfamiliar customs and environments, and might not understand the language. The risks for teens are even greater. In addition to the challenge of birthing and raising a child, teen mothers face severe challenges in completing their education and are at higher risk of severe health problems, all of which make them more likely to be reduced or confined to poverty.
Through Open Arms, certified bi-lingual birth doulas receive cultural competence and anti-racism training provide high quality care in 6 languages and emotional support while removing barriers that exist for many women needing health care.
Recently, Open Arms launched a Doula Outreach and Training Project which offers a career path and professional certification to the mothers they serve while at the same time enabling and empowering women to work in their own communities. Outreach doulas provide services to women and their families who need more intensive support during pregnancy and early parenting. They begin outreach in early in pregnancy and continue up to 2 years after delivery. In addition to doula training, outreach doulas receive training in assessment, case management, and other social service skills.
By helping families from the very beginning, they set the stage for the long-term health and the well being of each family they serve. By removing barriers to service, increasing awareness and personal advocacy, providing education about pregnancy, birth options, breastfeeding and positive early parenting and reducing medical interventions and the costs of perinatal care, Open Arms is able to fill in the gaps left in our customary perinatal practices and give families a healthy start.
Sheila Capestany, Open Arms Executive Director walks forward, accepts award, shakes hand and poses for picture, brief remarks