Melinda Wilcoxson and Nichole Watts wanted to find a way to help mothers.
So they created Bellies and Babees, a nonprofit antenatal care and childcare coordinating agency that helps women in times of need.
“Yes, we’ll give you baby items if you need them,” Wilcoxson said. “But we also give you lessons in lifelong learning, as well as life skills and goals. “
Their main goal is to help women become “self-sufficient because we’re not going to be here all the time,” she said.
The organization, located at 5757 W. Oklahoma Ave., assigns an individual care coordinator for pregnant women and women with infants. The Care Coordinator can help mothers plan their pregnancy and help them determine their eligibility for community services.
Bellies and Babees was formed in March and employs 15 care coordinators. It has served around 275 families since its inception, said Sam Watts, director of the office.
Wilcoxson said his organization goes beyond just providing temporary help to women.
“Why are you not keeping your job?” Wilcoxson asked, for example. “What is the reason why you cannot have housing? We want to dig deeper into their issues and issues and help give them resources and tools to achieve these types of goals because we can give them baby items all day long, but it still won’t help them in the long run. .
That’s why Watts said Bellies and Babees helps mothers graduate from high school and works to teach them job skills, such as interviewing.
The organization is also working with Employ Milwaukee, a workforce development effort in Milwaukee County, on skills training courses to help mothers prepare for employment and be able to support themselves. needs.
“They need someone to be behind them”
“Honestly, I think the most important thing is that they need someone to be behind them,” Watts said. “Whether it’s finding transportation or finding daycare for a few hours, because they can’t bring all of their children with them to appointments.
As a certified doula, Wilcoxson works with women to help them determine how they wish to give birth and is a constant partner throughout the pregnancy process.
The organization is funded by BadgerCare and also receives donations from agencies and community members.
Bellies and Babees also offers services in Spanish, with seven care coordinators who speak fluent Spanish. Wilcoxson said the organization is also in the process of hiring staff to help reach the Hmong population.
Bellies and Babees also operates a clothing bank and hosts special events, such as a coat drive that served 180 families before Thanksgiving.
“We want them to create memories with their kids here too,” Wilcoxson said. “Things their children will remember like, ‘Do you remember when we went to see Santa Claus? Even though they may not be able to do so at another time. We also want to give them these memories.
For more information
Call 414-539-6492 or visit the Bellies and Babees Facebook page.
Eligibility for the program depends on the mother’s situation. To register, a mother must be pregnant or have a child under 2 months old. However, if they are receiving services from another antenatal care agency, they can enroll if they have a child under 6 months of age. Families can also be transferred from another agency to Bellies and Babees at any time.
Once a family is enrolled in the program, they can stay with the agency until the child is 7 years old.
To use the organization, you must be registered with BadgerCare More. Those interested can get help registering on the site as well as through other services such as the FoodShare, Women, Infants and Children, and Wisconsin Works programs.