|Katie passing out Healthy Start flyers at local businesses and organizations in order to promote her services and those of her host site|
As the printer churns out its last piece of paper, I reach for the stack that is still warm with heat. Holding them in front of me as I walk back to my office, I read the words on the page, “Pregnant? Need Help? Contact Katie at the Northeast Florida Healthy Start Coalition.” I’ve printed this same document many times since the beginning of the service term. However, no matter how many times I’ve done this before, I still can’t help but wonder who in the future might see these flyers.
As an Outreach Specialist with the Northeast Florida Healthy Start Coalition, I perform street-based outreach to organizations in order to spread information and interest in Healthy Start. Healthy Start is a free and voluntary service in Florida to help women have and care for a healthy baby. Since September, I have distributed hundreds, if not thousands, of flyers to WIC offices, thrift stores, and pregnancy help centers. While these flyers may literally be just be a piece of paper with words to some, to me, they are a connection—an introduction to a new person and my gateway into Jacksonville.
Prior to this position, I had never performed any kind of outreach before. I can still remember sitting in my office during the first month of service waiting for pregnant women to call me. I had been to the Jacksonville pregnancy help centers to give them my flyers and educate them on Healthy Start, but I was still not receiving very many calls. However, the weeks of receiving maybe one call per week made me think, “What if the pregnant women that need my services are too scared to go to a pregnancy help center? What if they simply do not live near one and have no way of getting there?” These questions led me to ask myself, “Where do pregnant women go?” The answer is simple. They are everywhere.
"These flyers may literally be just be a piece of paper...to me, they are a connection—an introduction to a new person and my gateway into Jacksonville"
I knew that it would be impossible to give flyers to every organization in Jacksonville; however, I began to do outreach at places that were more out of the ordinary, such as: libraries, thrift shops, and schools. The first time I went to a library, I was placing a stack of my flyers on the community resource table when a lady came up to me. She said that she saw “Pregnant? Need Help?” on my flyer and asked to take a flyer for a pregnant friend of hers. I then realized that informing people who weren’t pregnant about the services that I can offer would be just as beneficial as trying to find the pregnant women themselves. Friends, relatives, coworkers, essentially anyone could let people know about the Healthy Start services that are available, as long as the flyers were available.
I have met with women who saw my flyer on a posting board at their college, a woman who was referred to me from a guidance counselor at her high school, and even a woman whose brother saw my flyer at a methadone clinic. Even though all of the women that I meet with come across my flyer in different ways, they all share one commonality: they want to have the healthiest baby that they possibly can. Most of the women I meet with have experienced hardships that I will never know of, and I find it truly inspiring that they care so much about not only themselves but their babies as well.