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Hidden In Plain Sight: Support For New Moms And Young Adults Just Around The Corner In Ypsilanti

Lisa Barry

Being a mom is hard, regardless of who you are or what your background may be.  It’s even harder for those who may not have the support they need.

In our ongoing series “Hidden in Plain Sight,” 89.1 WEMU’S Lisa Barry takes you to the Corner Health Center in Ypsilanti--a comprehensive teen health center, also providing special care and programs for young mothers.

A few blocks from the corner on North Huron Street, not far from Michigan Avenue, is the Corner Health Center in Ypsilanti.

You’ve likely walked or driven by it many times, not realizing it is a primary health care site for teenagers providing physical and mental health care support.

There are medical doctors, substance abuse specialists, and educational programs for patients between the ages of 12 to 26.

One of those programs is theSOAR mentoring program for young women available to them while they are pregnant and up until the time their youngest child turns one year old.

Nicole Bongers is a social worker at the Corner Health Center, who, among other things, overseas the SOAR mentoring program.

Credit Lisa Barry
Nicole Bongers is a social worker at the Corner Health Center.

Bongers says the SOAR program was originally designed and funded to help improve contraception planning for young mothers after they’ve given birth, to help better connect them with their medical providers to take care of their own health in addition to their newborn, and help them with a number of other issues faced by young, typically underserved mothers.

Once a month, the moms and their mentors gather at the Corner Health Center for a meeting where the young mothers take part in special classes, learn about contraception, or listen to other parenting presentations and meet face-to-face with their mentors.

Angela Grishaber is a mentor to a young mother of an 11 month-old son and says being a young, single mother herself, she clicked instantly with the new mom she was matched up with.

Credit Lisa Barry
Angela Grishaber is one of the mentors at the Corner Health Center.

She says she and her mentee communicate frequently on their own and wishes there had been a similar program available when her two sons were younger.

Heather Fulayter of Ypsilanti is one of the new mothers participating in the Corner Health Center’s SOAR program.  She pats and comforts her 3 week-old son Josh at a recent meeting and says, even though her mentorship relationship is new, she has already found it quite helpful.

Credit Lisa Barry
New mom Heather Fulayter and her newborn son Josh stand with her mentor Andrea Walters and her 4 month-old daughter Octavia.

The SOAR program was only created a few years ago in 2015.  Right now, there are 15 young moms in the program with about 8 of them matched with a mentor.  Bongers says they’re always looking for more mentors.

Credit Lisa Barry
The lobby at the Corner Health Center.

Kate Share is a maternal infant health program coordinator and nutritionist at the Corner Health Center.  She says they’ve been working since 1980 to make the center a safe place for teens with whatever issues are going on with them.

Credit Lisa Barry
A mural painted on the outside of the Corner Health Center.

So next time you pass the Corner Health Center in Ypsilanti, which actually began in a corner classroom in the old Ypsilanti High School, now you know a bit more about what's going on inside... hidden in plain sight.

Credit Lisa Barry

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— Lisa Barry is the host of All Things Considered on WEMU. You can contact Lisa at 734.487.3363, on Twitter @LisaWEMU, or email her at lbarryma@emich.edu

Lisa Barry was a reporter, and host of All Things Considered on 89.1 WEMU.
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