Board member Richard Garner recently went on a home visit with one of our HANDS Family Support Workers. Following are his reflections.
Shortly after sitting down in the living room of the young couple, it all came flooding back – the excitement, joy, and trepidation of preparing for your first child. I could see all of these emotions and more in their faces, and it was a clear reminder to me of the uncertainties that first-time parents face.
I was fortunate enough to visit this Louisville couple’s home in the company of their HANDS caseworker and see firsthand how this program guides these and other parents through the challenges of preparing for and raising children. It was wonderful to see how the caseworker interacted with the soon to be mom and dad, and it was clear that a mutual trust had been established between them.
This couple was still five months away from their due date, so our visit focused on envisioning the environment in which they wanted their little girl to grow up. Working from materials provided by the caseworker, the mom and dad chose from different adjectives and descriptive phrases to express their desires – “happy”, “kind”, and “able to say no” were just a few of their selections.
The young father-to- be had also written a very touching paragraph describing how he wanted his little girl to grow up – feeling loved and supported at all times – and he affirmed his commitment to making that a reality. It was beautiful to see his wife’s reaction as she heard these words for the first time. In fact, it was a moving experience for all four of us.
We also spent some time going over some preliminary details, such as how the mom would get to the hospital once her labor had started, plans for the placenta, and even what the baby would wear on her way home from the hospital.
They were dying to show us the clothes they had bought, and you could feel the excitement and pride of these soon to be parents as they held up the different outfit options they had for their baby girl.
The hour passed amazingly quickly, but I came away feeling that the value of our visit would endure well beyond the limited time that we spent there. While nothing will ever wipe away all of the anxiety that comes with parenting, I felt that this couple had achieved a level of comfort that would not exist without the presence of HANDS.
The caseworker told me that this was just one of 15 visits she would conduct this week, and it’s extremely inspiring to think of the collective impact these interactions are having across our community. I was fortunate to see the HANDS program in action and now can better appreciate the tremendous value it provides.