Hey, Healthy Starters!

Spring has sprung and we're diving into April with a burst of excitement! It's not just the season blooming, it's also National Minority Health Month and Black Maternal Health Week — and we're highlighting big time!

Healthy Start has hit a major milestone by earning our Platinum Transparency from Candid, showing off our accurate and up-to-date GuideStar account. Check out our shining profile below!

But that's not all! We're thrilled to welcome four incredible new members to our team. Their passion and experience will fuel our mission even further.

Don't miss out on the action — along with our Strong Like a Mother group and diaper schedule, we have a General Coalition Meeting coming up. Mark your calendars!

Let's kick off this spring season together!


Sam Suffich and your friends at MC Healthy Start

National Minority Health Month

Please join us in recognizing and celebrating Minority Health Month, which happens during the month of April each year.

We are pleased to celebrate National Minority Health Month with the HHS Office of Minority Health and promote this year’s theme, Be the Source for Better Health: Improving Health Outcomes Through Our Cultures, Communities, and Connections.

Black Maternal Health Week

This month during the week of April 11, we're shining a spotlight on a critical issue that demands our attention and action: the disparities in maternal health outcomes faced by Black women.

Did you know that Black women in the United States are three to four times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than white women? This shocking statistic is just one example of the systemic injustices that persist within our healthcare system.

During Black Maternal Health Week, we stand in solidarity with Black mothers and families, and we commit ourselves to addressing the root causes of these disparities.

It's time to advocate for equitable access to quality healthcare, dismantle racial biases in medical settings, and support policies that prioritize the health and well-being of all mothers, regardless of race or socioeconomic status.

Together, we can work towards a future where every mother receives the care and support she deserves. Let's raise awareness, spark conversations, and take meaningful action to ensure that Black maternal health is a priority for all.

For more information, click here.

We've Gone Platinum!

We have some exciting news!

Martin County Healthy Start Coalition has been awarded a Platinum Seal of Transparency from Candid. This is a recognition that not all nonprofits achieve, so we feel incredibly proud to have earned this seal.

The Platinum Seal of Transparency is a recognition awarded by Candid, a nonprofit organization that provides data, analysis, and insights on the social sector. This seal is part of Candid's GuideStar program, which aims to promote transparency and accountability among nonprofit organizations.

To earn the Platinum Seal of Transparency, nonprofits must provide comprehensive and up-to-date information about their organization on their GuideStar profile. This includes details such as mission and programs, financial information, impact metrics, governance practices, and more.

The Platinum Seal signifies that an organization has gone above and beyond in providing transparency to donors, funders, and other stakeholders. It indicates a high level of openness and accountability, which can help build trust and credibility with supporters. We are proud to serve our community!

Click here for more information about Candid.

Meet Our New Staff

Latisha Thomas McLeod, Data & Evaluation Manager

For Latisha Thomas McLeod, Data & Evaluation Manager, Healthy Start intersects her passion for education and maternal healthcare outcome improvement. She excitedly joined the Healthy Start family in August 2023 bringing 15+ years of experience in data collection & analysis, research, and program evaluation.

Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, Latisha graduated from Fordham University with a Bachelor's degree in Social Science. Prior to joining Healthy Start, Latisha was Associate Director of Organizational Learning & Analytics for New Leaders Inc., and Data Analyst for Broward County Public Schools. In NYC, she used her analytical support skills to improve performance, quality, and process improvement efforts in hospitals, nursing homes, ambulatory sites, and community-based healthcare organizations across New York, Maryland, and Florida.

Latisha understands firsthand the importance of mothers to receive high-quality prenatal care. Less than two weeks after joining Healthy Start, she was admitted to the hospital at 36 weeks 4 days gestation with HELLP syndrome – a life-threatening rare pregnancy complication that is only known to be reversed via c-section. Though her baby girl was delivered perfectly healthy, Latisha suffered several complications from the emergency c-section and was hospitalized for 38 days. During that time, Healthy Start provided her and her family with various support such as resources, tools, and guidance to get her back home.

Latisha and her family relocated to the Treasure Coast in 2017. She has been married to her high school sweetheart since 2010 and they have two beautiful daughters. When not doing the work to support and improve the health of mothers and babies, Latisha enjoys food indulgences, family movie nights, relaxation, and – when time rarely allows it – leisurely reading.

Michelle Jackson, Client Services Specialist

Joining Healthy Start in February 2024 as our Client Services Specialist, simply made a lot of sense for Michelle Jackson, as she is passionate about helping mothers and families as one of our Bilingual Community Doulas and advocating for mental health, maternal health, and racial and cultural issues. 

Her passion to serve families was born from her own struggles during the prenatal and postpartum periods of her three pregnancies. Although she had experienced this disease in her previous two pregnancies, in 2014, while pregnant with their youngest child, Michelle experienced a severe form of a potentially life threatening pregnancy disease called Hyperemesis Gravidarum, which caused her to lose a total of 25lbs requiring urgent medical attention due to severe dehydration and malnutrition. After giving birth, she went on to experience severe postpartum depression and anxiety, also known as PMADS.

After a long journey of recovery, Michelle realized just how vulnerable mothers and families are when they’re not adequately supported during their prenatal, birth, and postpartum periods, and she vowed to grow through her experiences and use them to help other mothers. Like the mythological Phoenix, she used the ashes of her prenatal and postpartum struggles to bring new purpose to her life, which resulted in her inspiration to become a Birth and Postpartum Doula. In April 2023, she joined Martin County Healthy Start’s second doula class and received her Birth Doula certification from the G.R.O.W. Doula Program. A few months later, she went on to receive her Postpartum Doula certification from The Midwifery Institute and began her dream of helping mothers as a Holistic Doula through what she considers to be “the most critical and transformational moment of a woman’s life.”

Born and raised in the beautiful island of Puerto Rico, Michelle joins us with a background in Technical Writing with over 12 years of experience managing Systems Development and Document Development Life Cycles in Aviation, Customer Service, Call Center Management, and Government Health Services industries. She is also certified as a Prenatal Yoga Teacher, Reiki Master, Holistic Herbalist and is currently working towards her Mindfulness Meditation certification.

Michelle lives in Port Saint Lucie with her husband, CJ, and is the proud mom of their 5 children, 3 cats, and 1 dog. When she’s not immersed in the birth world or helping our families at the Betty Moore Pregnancy Outreach Center, she enjoys her free time with her family out in nature, deepening her faith, cooking, gardening, and reading. 

Sellian Cruz, Intake Specialist

Sellian is new to her Intake Specialist role, but not new to Healthy Start! Sellian transferred from her Client Services Specialist position to her Intake Specialist position, and is working directly with new moms and their babies.

Sellian Cruz joined Martin County Healthy Start Coalition, Inc. in late June 2022. Being a South Florida native, Sellian is thrilled to find a new chapter of work servicing families on the Treasure Coast.

Being a servant and of service takes passion, dedication, and commitment, which are some of the values Sellian holds close. She is passionate about working with families of Martin County by assisting with their needs. She believes connecting families with resources is essential for building healthy families. Also, being a mother, she considers "community" vital when raising children. Being a part of the Healthy Start organization and seeing the heart it has for families is why she accepted to join the team.

Idalia Lazo, Intake Specialist

Idalia joined Martin County Healthy Start Coalition after enrolling in one of its home visitation programs, Nurse Family Partnership. As a first-time expecting mother, she found the education and support from the program vital for a healthy and happy pregnancy. The guidance she receives from her nurse has prepared her for the most important stage in her life, motherhood. In a few weeks, she and her partner will welcome their son with the help of a Healthy Start doula.

Prior to Healthy Start, Idalia worked in the non-profit sector building community programs that foster economic and professional development. She brings over 15 years of experience working with diverse communities across the country. She received her Bachelor's degree in Cultural Anthropology and Mexican-American Studies from the University of California, Los Angeles and a Master's in Business Administration from Florida Atlantic University. 

Born in a Zapotec community in Mexico, and raised in the multicultural metropolis of Los Angeles, Idalia learned to navigate in between different cultures, languages, and practices. She believes in building healthy communities through access and equity to services. Idalia is looking forward to connecting expecting and new mothers to programs/services in the Treasure Coast community.


April Mom (and Partner) Group!

Join us Saturday, April 27th at 11AM for the mom AND partners group! For questions, please contact Anastasia Anderson at aanderson@mchealthystart.org or call 772-678-8360.

Please be sure to register here so we can save you a seat and a snack!

Remember, partners are welcomed and encouraged!

April Diaper Schedule

Horarios de pañales de abril

Please respond directly to this email if you have any comments or questions. Thanks for reading!

Martin County Healthy Start Coalition | mchealthystart.org
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