By Vanecia Weathersby Gray and Jaimee Martinez, The Council on Recovery
July 8, 2020
When it comes to thinking about dynamic duos, Vanecia Weathersby Gray and Jaimee Martinez definitely fit the bill. Unwavering in their motivations and compassionate in their execution, they along with many others with the Cradles Project at The Council on Recovery are working hard to serve pregnant and postpartum women who either are involved or are at-risk for being involved with a child protection organization.
Understanding that situations like these arise out of a multitude of intertwined factors, the Cradles Project is a free and confidential service aimed at providing comprehensive services. These include intensive case management; parenting, trauma, and emotion regulation skills development; and substance use disorder resources and education. The program also provides opportunities for fun and healthy bonding activities between mother and child, including museum/zoo passes and their annual holiday party. The program is designed to facilitate a healthy substance free lifestyle for mothers with young children and to reduce the incidences of substance exposed babies.
Vanecia is the Engagement, Outreach, and Enrollment Specialist for the Cradles Project. She handles connection with the community and reaches out to vulnerable populations. She says, “the main motivating factor for me is the WHY. What is happening to these women and why are they in the situation they are in–understanding this is the first step in addressing the core of the situation.”
Jaimee is a case manager for the Cradles Project, specifically the MOMMIES program that adds additional support aimed at helping mothers who are struggling or in recovery from an opiate addiction. She calls herself the “all the way advocate for the mom,” meeting women in their homes, treatment centers, libraries, or wherever the mom might need her. Jaimee says “if she wants me there in the delivery room with her, I’ll be there to make sure she has everything she needs to feel comfortable and relaxed.”
In tandem, Vanecia and Jaimee hope to support their women to be able to continue parenting their children and foster healthier maternal and family lifestyles.
While Vanecia’s and Jaimee’s jobs differ, their outlooks are much the same. Drawing from experience, both emphasize how important it is for their work to be genuine and sincere. The Cradles Project understands that the women they serve are letting them into a very personal place when they seek care.
Vanecia and Jaime say they “want to cast aside any judgement, stigma, or bias that can cause that friction that our mothers know already exists in the world and work towards not only healing but making sure that the woman is well. That the whole woman is well. We truly want them to be everything they want to be in this world.”
If you speak to the rest of the team, it is also evident how passionate everyone is. They are passionate about it because they can see the effects their work has. Even with COVID-19, the Cradles Project is confirming just how essential social connections are. The women continue to want to connect under their circumstances. They’ve been fortunate enough to use technology to maintain these strong, tight-knit relationships with their case managers through tough times like this. As a true testament to their work, even COVID-19 cannot come between the supportive relationships that have already been forged.