As always, Abide has stayed busy growing and doing all the things this last quarter! Cessilye kicked off the quarter for us on a high note when she went to Washington D.C. to speak about maternal health disparities and Abide's work at the White House.
Significant team updates include:
Melissa Moreira was promoted from Executive Coordinator to Director of Administration
Krystle Thomas was promoted from Client Resource Specialist to Director of Client Resources and Education
We have a new hire! Ashley Clark joined the team as our Administrative Coordinator
These organizational changes are not just milestones; they are signals of the rapid growth and expansion we are experiencing at Abide. Each new role and team member helps us continue providing our community with holistic, evidence-based, and judgment-free care. We are excited about what lies ahead and deeply grateful for the continued support from each one of you as we journey forward.
We also have an exciting announcement to share:
In Spring 2022, we contacted then-Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson's office to explore the possibility of securing federal funding for Abide. After lots of back-and-forth and submitting documents, budgets, etc., we didn't hear anything for months. Then, on December 28, 2022, we received a transformative piece of news: our project was included in H.R. 2617, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2022.
Fast forward to July of this year, when we submitted our official grant application. Just last week, we learned that our application had been approved, securing nearly $300,000 in federal funding for our Birth Center. We are so thrilled to share this news with you all, and can't wait to open the doors to the Birth Center!
Feature Story: A Conversation with Paige Jackson, VP of Clinical Services
Our Vice President of Clinical Operations, Paige Y. Jackson, recently visited Commonsense Childbirth with members of our clinical team. Commonsense Childbirth is the headquarters of the JJ Way®, the model of care we follow at Abide. To celebrate Paige's dedication and the impact she's had on our mission, we're thrilled to spotlight her in this issue of our newsletter.
Early Days at Abide
What inspired you to join Abide?
Cessilye did during my first conversation with her. We connected via social media, and one day she reached out via DM to ask if we could chat. During that phone call, Cess shared the vision and heart behind Abide. From that moment on, I was sold and began serving Abide in a volunteer role. When I moved to Dallas to officially join the team, there were only three other team members — Cess, an Office Admin, and a childbirth educator. It’s wild to think how far we’ve come since I joined the team in July of 2020.
Did you know that Abide would be what it is today when you first started?
Honestly, I didn’t know that Abide would be what it is today, but from my first conversation with Cessilye, I knew that God had His hands on Abide. So, I knew God had big things in store, I just couldn’t fathom just how big! Cess is the lead visionary so she has always carried the full vision. Yet her openness in sharing that vision and inviting me to dream alongside her has been both inspiring and a tad bit uncomfortable. If you know Cess, then you know she doesn’t dream small, so I 100% believe the world hasn’t seen half of the fullness of what Abide will one day be. The full legacy of what Abide will be known for.
The JJ Way® & Commonsense Childbirth
What is the JJ Way® and why is it important to Abide's model of care?
The JJ Way® is a patient-centered model of care created by my friend and mentor, Jennie Joseph. Jennie is a British-trained midwife who created this model after moving to the United States 30 plus years ago and learning of the disparities in maternal healthcare here. This model aims to reduce health disparities that exist due to race and provide quality maternity care to low-income, uninsured, or underinsured women. This model achieves this goal through consistently applying four cornerstones: access, connection, knowledge, and empowerment. The JJ Way® model is effective in reducing disparities and improving outcomes because it operates from the premise that every parent who chooses to birth wants a healthy baby and that every parent deserves one. This is especially important for us at Abide, given the state of maternity care in Texas and the communities we serve in South Dallas.
We choose to believe the best in people, while providing them with quality, culturally aware care, along with access to various resources, and that plays a huge part in our outcomes.
What was it like visiting Commonsense Childbirth in Florida?
Vising the Commonsense Childbirth Easy Access Clinic team in Flordia was absolutely a full-circle moment for me. Many may not know this, but I was awarded a full-ride scholarship to the midwifery program I attended in Boise, Idaho. Jennie Joseph and the late Claudia Booker were the two midwifery mentors for that scholarship program. Those two supported me in numerous ways and I wouldn't have graduated nor be where I am today without their support. So it was full-circle seeing as how Jennie has witnessed my evolution from student midwife to clinic director and now VP of Clinical Services bringing my clinical team to her clinic for a visit. It was a blessing to see in person what I’ve seen through pictures and heard so many great things about.
What key insights did you gain from the visit?
So many insights were gained that will aid us in running our clinic more efficiently. Jennie’s clinic has been around for years, and so we were able to pick up on little things we can tweak at our clinic to be more efficient. For example, we learned how to better incorporate the Client Passport into the flow of the clinic as well as learned about splitting welcome visits into two parts to aid in safely increasing our client volume. We're excited to implement these and other changes soon, as the JJ Way® model is built to scale to meet the high needs of the community. Which we are definitely feeling and want to help meet the need of those here in Dallas.
The Journey So Far
What are some significant milestones from your years so far at Abide?
A few milestones stick out. When I started our material goods program, it was our largest program and with it we've had incredible community support in keeping that program going. The next one is the summer remodel and successful October 2020 soft launch of our Easy Access Clinic. It was really special to have so many support us as we pivoted a year sooner than planned to add EAC services to meet the needs of the community. Our first round of clients who trusted Abide to provide them with care, will always have a special place in my heart. The last significant milestone that comes to mind is our big clinic grand opening celebration we had in October 2021 when Jennie Joseph came to town to help us celebrate. So many other milestones come to mind, we’ve had some great times at Abide.
What are some challenges you've had to overcome?
I faced personal challenges like relocating to a new city and dealing with housing issues the first two years I lived here. There were also other challenges, such as being a Black woman in nonprofit leadership. Through it all, I believe it's been God’s guidance along with the support of Cess, other South Dallas community leaders, and our team that helped me overcome these obstacles.
Can you share some of the impact Abide has had on the community?
What are some aspirations you have for the next 5 years?
Over the next five years, I aspire to continue expanding clinical services, start providing birth services in a birth center environment, and offer homebirth services. I want to continue emphasizing education and bring students from various medical backgrounds into our clinic space to witness community healthcare.
How can the community support Abide?
People can help us to spread the word about Abide, by volunteering and sharing their expertise to help us in various ways, by buying items off our Amazon wishlist, sharing our post on FB/IG, hosting a lunch/learn, and by supporting us monetarily by donating to our capital campaign.
Are there any personal reflections you'd like to share with our readers?
I've grown leaps and bounds both personally and professionally during my time at Abide. I appreciate our leadership style that emphasizes rest and the gift of grace. I am also grateful for a team that trusts in my skillset and leadership. Abide was one of three job offers I had the year before I graduated midwifery school, I can 100% say that I am still happy to be a part of Abide and am excited for the future. I’m living my wildest dreams and often wonder what my great-great-grandmother Henrietta, who was a midwife, would say.
Thank you, Paige, for your service and dedication to Abide. We wouldn't be where we are without you!
Program Updates: Delivering High-Quality Prenatal Care
From Krystle: We recently finished our second cohort of Supportive Pregnancy Care®. The moms from this cohort are all full term and some are due to give birth any day now! We plan to host one more group before the end of the year. One of our goals for the Supportive Pregnancy Care® program is to get a group made up of teens/young moms.
"Supportive Pregnancy Care® helped with things I didn’t know even being pregnant a third time. It was very helpful also to be around other moms who were due around the same time I was and hear their experiences so far with their pregnancies. The instructors were very informative and helpful when questions were asked. I’m glad I was able to be apart of it and to learn more about pregnancy and postpartum." — Jada J., SPC Mom
From Kennasha: Every day at our clinic, we live out Abide's values by serving families who would otherwise not receive care due to circumstances that are often outside of their control. It's amazing to witness the joy on a client's face when they discover their baby's gender at the ultrasounds we offer for free. It's as if they are one step closer to getting to know the individual growing inside. It's also quite precious when a sibling is able to assist in listening to the baby's heartbeat or when a partner or family member realizes that their presence at the prenatal and/or postpartum appointment is valuable and welcomed. Our clinic is setting a strong foundation for families.
Recently, I overheard a client state that Abide is the only place where they've felt heard and safe. It was confirmation that the work we do is both necessary and worthwhile.
"My experience at Abide was truly amazing. As a first-time mom I received endless support during every visit, if I ever consider having kids in the future I will surely make sure to come back here for my prenatal visit. I recommend this place to anyone who wants to feel comfortable, valued all while receiving the best service. Everyone here is kind and very professional. I LOVE ABIDE!" — Ally M., Abide Mama
Donor Appreciation: Thank You for Supporting Give 8/28 and North Texas Giving Day
As I reflect on Q3, our staff, community partners and the unwavering support of you, our beloved donors, I'm reminded of the power of community and that we are so much better when we come together! That practicing collective care encourages us to see wellbeing as beyond just an individual's responsibility but as something that all members can contribute to and shape together. It encourages us to work together to change the oppressive systems that cause us stress, trauma, and death. Collective care is the model of care we practice at Abide. We're grateful to consider you as a member of our Abide community!
In August, Abide celebrated Give 8/28. Give 8/28 began in 2018 with a vision from Young Black and Giving Back (YBGB) Institute founder, Ebonie Johnson Cooper, to have a giving day dedicated to grassroots Black nonprofits. Give 8/28 builds on the momentum created by Black Philanthropy Month and commemorates multiple important historical landmarks in Black Americans' march toward freedom that all happened on August 28. Give 8/28 is the one concentrated day of giving for Black-led, Black-benefiting nonprofits. Abide also celebrated North Texas Giving Day. North Texas Giving Day and Give 8/28 gives us a platform to be introduced to a community of people looking to fuel the missions of organizations that inspire them.
Friends, collectively, your support benefits our Abide families and community in a very meaningful and tangible way. One of the ways we are doing this is by staffing our Accredited Easy Access™ Clinic with compassionate, unbiased, competent, highly skilled birth workers, supplying families with holistic care, and resources that support the peaceful pregnancy and postpartum that our clients deserve. Our birth workers are literal lifesavers!
The progress we are making in reaching our financial goals, making it possible for us to continue to advance our mission of providing holistic pregnancy care to Black, Indigenous, and women of color, could not be possible without your generous heart. Thank YOU! Whether you have made a one-time donation, are among the nearly half of our donors giving consistently, provide grant funding, or uplifted and encouraged the work we do via word of mouth and social media, we cherish every one of you! To our new donors..we're so grateful that you found us and are planting seeds with us in this work of maternal justice. You are welcome here, and we hope we can count on your continued support.
Abide fam, thank you again for planting seeds with us. Every seed has made a difference!
Warmly, Tiffany Washington Donor Relations Specialist
I have genuinely enjoyed volunteering with Abide! It has been empowering to share space with women that support other women by building community and providing access to quality, culturally informed healthcare. I especially admire how Abide’s clinic is a beautifully crafted space that centers the patient’s experience. Organizations like Abide motivate me to progress in my academic pursuits as an aspiring physician.
I remember visiting the clinic one day and I was blown away by what I observed in Janikka. You would think that she had been woven into the fabric of Abide since the very beginning. She is the epitome of what it means when we say #ThisIsAbide. She comes to every shift with a pep in her step and offers compassionate care to every client who walks through our doors. Given the comments from the team, if I were to describe Janikka in one word, it would be dependable. Congratulations, Janikka, for being recognized by your peers as team member of the quarter. — Cessilye
Here are a few words describing the impact she has made on the team:
"She is dependable, hard-working and professional. She is very intentional with clients and helps them feel secure within the clinic. She always gets the job done. I’m glad she’s on the team."
"She has been working very hard for the clinic and even with everything going on she still has been so needed. She has never dropped the ball even with dealing with loss, midwifery school, and Abide. "
"The past couple of months have dealt Janikka some tough cards but she still shows up ready to help care for our clients. She zooms around the clinic taking care of things that are often outside of her job description while always bossing what is in her job description. She is kind, inquisitive, mindful, and is a very important part of our clinic flow."
Ways to Get Involved
We are still looking for volunteers to assist with the Abide Birthday Bash on October 14th! Some volunteer tasks include:
Ensure that all event signs, banners, and directional indicators are properly placed
Manage parking: Direct cars and assist with handicap spots
Help public transport guests find the venue
Assist DJ: Guide to setup area and help with audio/mic tests
Coordinate vendors: Set up tables for wellness booths, kids' area, cupcakes, and photo shoots
To volunteer at the Birthday Bash, email email@example.com
SAVE THE DATE! A Jazzy Christmas with Brandi Waller-Pace: December 9th. More details to follow soon on our socials.
Social Media Highlights
In July, Cessilye was invited to speak at "Communities in Action: Building a Better America" at the White House. During her speech, she called attention to health disparities among Black women and babies, honored the Black women who are doing the work, and discussed the successful outcomes we've had with our client base. If you haven't watched her speech yet, you need to!