to improve the health and wellbeing of Richmond’s childbearing families through fitness, education, social support, and community engagement.
that pregnancy, birth, and early parenting comprise a critical life transition that has profound and long-lasting effects on mothers, babies, families, and society. Tending this transition wisely can result in significant and long-term benefits in the health of children and families.
Nurture envisions a world where all families are supported through the journey of pregnancy, birth, and early parenting. Where there is easy and affordable access to trusted support, educational services and community resources so that parents raise healthy, secure children in a strong and connected community.
is the creation of a dedicated maternity resource center that offers high-quality, high-value education, wellness, and support services for Richmond’s emerging families and the professionals who serve this audience. The center would also serve as a hub to facilitate communication and collaboration between existing maternal/child health organizations so that we create a seamless web of support for expecting and new families.
Leslie Lytle began teaching prenatal yoga classes in 2000 and founded OmMama, LLC in 2005. Over 3000 women and their partners have participated in OmMama’s highly acclaimed programs that combine physical practice, evidence-based information, and peer support to build confidence and resilience in birth and early parenting. Through her students’ stories, Leslie perceived a huge need for comprehensive, easily accessible pregnancy, birth, and early parenting services across all economic sectors. In the fall of 2011 she gathered a group of maternal/child health professionals, mothers and community members to explore the possibility of creating a dedicated maternity fitness, education and resource center for Richmond’s expecting and new families. Nurture was born of their efforts in April 2012 and received its 501(c)(3) status in September 2013.
As word got out about our emerging organization, the community response was tremendous. Former OmMama students shared their stories and offered initial financial support and volunteer time; nonprofit consultants, attorneys and accountants donated services; graphic artists, web designers, photographers, and filmmakers contributed their expertise to create materials; the VCU Brand Center adopted Nurture as a semester-long project.
Even as these pieces were falling into place, Nurture worked to fulfill its mission with an all-volunteer staff. Our website launched in April 2013. We partnered with Richmond Healthy Start Initiative to provide social media support for the Big Latch-On, an annual event designed to raise awareness of the public health benefits of breastfeeding in August. Our first series of prenatal and post-natal fitness classes launched in October, 2013, in partnership with Project Yoga Richmond. We hosted our first professional development program: a day-long conference entitled: Perinatal Loss: Facilitating Healing Through Compassionate Dialogue, bringing together health care providers, childbirth educators, doulas, and parents to promote healing for families and staff after a perinatal loss. By the end of 2013, we had raised nearly $9000 in our first fundraising campaign.
In June of 2014, our board and volunteer staff committed to participating in the Standards for Nonprofit Excellence Early Adopter Cohort program offered through the Partnership for Nonprofit Excellence. Nurture partnered with Richmond Healthy Action Alliance to raise community awareness of the importance of breastfeeding via RVA Latches On! and Let’s Talk Breastfeeding events at the Byrd House Market. Last October, we offered our second annual professional development program, From Trauma to Triumph: Recognizing the Impact of Childbirth Trauma on Women and Care Providers.
In August 2015, we again partnered with the Richmond Health Action Alliance to provide in-kind and technical support for #RVA Breastfeeds, a social media campaign designed to raise community support for breastfeeding. This campaign received wide media coverage, generated 100,000 engagements on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. and is receiving national attention as a model for community engagement around breastfeeding.
For our first two years, we focused on programs and initiatives we could achieve without a dedicated space. We are now focused on moving toward becoming a full-fledged, grown-up nonprofit with a paid staff and a space of our own where we can expand the programs we provide for the RVA’s childbearing community.