In “Mom & Me & Mom,” Maya Angelou said a mother is important “Not just because she feeds and also loves and cuddles and even mollycoddles a child, but because in an interesting and maybe an eerie and unworldly way, she stands in the gap. She stands between the unknown and the known.” Angelou said her mother “shed her protective love down around me and without knowing why, people sensed that I had value.”
We know that mothers and nurturers are the glue for many families and sometimes families need a community’s support. Multiple organizations in Indianapolis support mothers during times of need or to help them improve their everyday lives. Two of these organizations are grantees from our 2022 annual grant round. We contacted each of them to learn more about how they support mothers and children.
Exodus Refugee Immigration Inc.
Exodus Refugee Immigration Inc. (Exodus) welcomes individuals and families from many countries, cultures, languages, faiths and political opinions. Since 1981, Exodus has helped thousands of refugees establish new lives in Indiana.
Exodus supports the entire family unit, and some of that support is created specifically for mothers.
“The Exodus Women’s Program provides mothers with the resources they need to build new lives in our community.
For example, Exodus’s program provides intensive case management, which includes assistance accessing resources for new and expecting mothers, encouraging ways to become financially self-sufficient, and teaching the skills they need to support their families. Exodus often assists with scheduling medical appointments and then offers transportation to those appointments. We also give essential items to new mothers, including pack and plays, diapers, wipes, baby clothing, and more.
Exodus also provides trainings for mothers. Topics include women’s health, children’s health, home safety, nutrition, and many others that help mothers care for their families. These classes help mothers gain the foundational knowledge they need to navigate American systems on their own.”
In our ever-changing society and community, Exodus has to evolve to meet the needs of mothers.
“We are seeing a few emergent needs among the mothers we work with. For instance, rising housing costs make it difficult for women to achieve financial self-sufficiency. We have also seen an increased need for car seats, as these are an expensive item that many women struggle to afford.
Indiana also has a high rate of maternal mortality, and this rate is even higher among women of color. We have seen that many pregnant clients struggle to access the care and support they need from the healthcare system, a problem compounded by racial and language barriers. Our staff work to help address this problem by supporting our expecting mothers through education and advocacy, but this is still a deficit we see in the healthcare system.”
Supporting mothers’ health does not stop at doctor’s appointments and prenatal care, and it also includes mental health.
“Exodus has a few resources available to support the mental health of mothers. We can refer our clients to the Exodus Mental Wellness program, which includes individual and group counseling, as well as referrals to community providers when necessary. This gives women the chance to access professional counseling in their preferred language through a program designed to be culturally sensitive.
The Exodus Women’s program also hosts an art circle, which is a program that brings women together once a week and provides them with a safe place to gather, share with one another, and create, all things that have been known to support mental health. Isolation can be common among newly arrived refugees, especially new mothers who may not be working, and access to the art circle helps alleviate loneliness.”
Mothers are amazing, and the stories of refugee mothers are truly an inspiration, and it goes to show that there are no obstacles they wouldn’t conquer for their families.
“Refugee mothers are incredibly resilient. They are often learning a new language, learning to navigate new cultural systems, all while also learning how to access healthcare for themselves and their children, how to run errands, use public transportation, pay bills, find employment, and more.
Across cultures, it may be easy to point out differences, but the mothers in our program, like so many all over the world, share a desire to support and elevate their families. When you ask any of our mothers what their goals are in the United States, they tell us about their children—they want their children to access education, to have healthcare, and to have opportunities to grow up knowing peace. So many of our mothers have come from dangerous and difficult situations, and they work hard to make sure their children will have safer and more stable lives than they did.”
Fay Biccard Glick Neighborhood Center at Crooked Creek
Fay Biccard Glick Neighborhood Center at Crooker Creek (FBGNC) focuses on improving the quality of life for their clients. They use the “Family Campus” model to support the entire family, including intergenerational programming.
FBGNC supports mothers through programs like parent engagement and women’s support groups.
“Each mother that joins Purpose of Women (P.O.W.) need support in various ways. Our mothers come in need of emotional, mental, financial, and educational support. Each mother is open to change but needs extra support and guidance to achieve their goals. P.O.W gives each mother that at a pace to keeps them self-motivated and self-sufficient.”
The effects of COVID-19 and coinciding inflation have affected families in ways that no one could have foreseen.
“The majority of the mothers are in need of better paying jobs, certifications, financial stability, and mental health therapy. During COVID, the lives of a lot of these mothers changed. P.O.W gives them an opportunity create bonds with each other, along with being able to utilize services that Fay Biccard provides for their needs.”
Being a mother is demanding and requires so much support and love, which is why women in the P.O.W. are provided with mental health services.
“Empowered Living Inc. provides all mental health services for our P.O.W participants; individual and group therapy sessions. P.O.W juststarted workshops sessions for mental health with Empowered Living Inc. There are 8 sessions that take place once a month for 2 hours, along with 1 hourof meditation, yoga, and journaling. From the expressions of happiness and relief from the first session, I am confident that there will be some powerful healing and confidence building by the end of these workshops.”
Women and mothers need the support of the entire community and its organizations, which is why FBGNC is essential.
“Each mother is going through the process of life in different ways, they need the full support that we give them. They each have barriers that prevent them from excelling or causes feelings of giving up. Most of the mothers do not have a support system outside of the support P.O.W provides. We continue to encourage them, build trust, help with barriers and keep them engaged in programs including Career change, parenting class (WFYI), financial coaching, Mental Health therapy and a day for moms to relax and enjoy self-time.”
Other Resources for Mothers and Families
The work of our recent grantees is essential and is working towards building stronger families. The work of these two organizations is only a drop in the bucket of support that mothers or families need, so we compiled a list of resources available in Indiana for all kinds of needs, from diapers to local support groups.
About Women’s Fund
At Women’s Fund of Central Indiana, we are dedicated to mobilizing people, ideas and investments, so every woman and girl in our community has an equitable opportunity to reach her full potential – no matter her place, race or identity. We invest in organizations that help women in our focus areas, caregiving, intimate violence, economic empowerment and girls’ programs. Learn more about Women’s Fund.