genesis family health logo

At the start of the new year in 2023 Genesis Family Health looked at the issues facing their community and wanted to find ways to use community outreach to engage their expectant mothers in health education.  Their Care Team came up with the idea to gather maternity patients together to create baby gifts or to make items needed for their new babies and wanted to use those gatherings to share health education with expectant mothers.
It didn’t take long for Genesis to find a willing partner in Jennifer LaSalle at the local K-State Research and Extension Office in Garden City.  Jennifer, the K-State Extension Agent, had seven sewing machines available, which were purchased through a previous grant.  Together, they worked out a plan for K-State Extension to provide the sewing machines and teach the sewing classes and Genesis Family Health would recruit patients for the classes, provide the fabric and supplies and provide health education to expectant mothers during the sewing class meeting time.
The first class was held in March 2023.  Two pregnant mothers attended.  Though they had capacity for seven mothers, they were able to pilot the class and their approach to providing health education during that first class with a smaller group.  The classes are meant to be fun for the women.  Genesis and K-State Extension want the classes to be light-hearted and fun where the women get to know each other and the CHW teams, but also a time where community partners are invited to share health information such as breastfeeding, COVID-19 information, immunization information, Medicaid Benefits and Enrollment information, food distribution, infant safe sleeping, and other community resources.
After that first class of only two women, they might have initially been a bit disappointed with the turnout, but as they packed up after the event, something magical happened.  One of participants stayed after to talk with the CHW.  She shared that she and her toddler were experiencing homelessness after leaving their home due to domestic violence.  She came to the sewing class to learn to sew and to make a simple project and during that two-hour class, she made a connection with the CHW, feeling comfortable enough to share a very personal situation and ask for help.
IMG 6081 002
The Genesis Family Health CHW Team was able to connect the family with Catholic Charities, who was able to place the mother and child in emergency temporary housing while the mother made connections through her church to find housing and other social services assistance programs. She simply needed to feel comfortable enough to share her story, receive encouragement, a helping hand, and a bit of time so she could make connections to find housing to keep her family safe.  For Genesis Family Health, that’s what classes like this are all about.  Community outreach provides an opportunity to build relationships in their community and develop trust so that when their patients have a need, they know that they can reach out to the Genesis team for help.
The mothers who attend the classes come from diverse backgrounds and in some cases don’t speak the same languages, but they all have one thing in common; they are expectant mothers enjoying themselves while learning something new. Most of the women have never used a sewing machine before, yet in the two-hour class, they use patterns, cut their fabric, pin their projects, and finish their projects. Karen Lozano, CHW Teams Program Director at Genesis Family Health says of Jennifer LaSalle’s ability to work with women who may speak a different language, “Jennifer’s patience and skills surpass any language barrier!”
Despite a slow start, the second and third classes were full in April and May.  Projects have included receiving blankets, burp rags and bibs so far.  Locations have varied, with the most recent class being held in the Finney County Public Library where participants learned about the programs the library offers young families. Genesis Family health plans to continue monthly classes but may consider increasing the frequency should demand increase.