JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – For the past 30 years, Northeast Florida Healthy Start Coalition has had one main job: to keep babies alive. During that time, the staff has worked with thousands of mothers and fathers to make sure they’re prepared for their new bundle of joy.
Cheryl Mayhew was one of those moms 30 years ago, and when you look at how far she has come, you’d never know the depth of her valleys.
”I was going through a divorce and abusive relationship,” Mayhew said.
She had also recently found out that she was pregnant with her second daughter, Rebecca.
”I had to go and see a caseworker. I still remember her to this day. I’ll get emotional, Miss Fern. She, she helped change my life,” said Mayhew.
Miss Fern focused on more than just Mayhew’s unborn baby, she focused on mom, too.
“She talked to me about going back to school and getting my education, what I’m going to do in the future, and I would see her at every appointment,” said Mayhew.
Mayhew was matched by taking the Healthy Start Prenatal Risk Screening. It’s offered to every pregnant woman in Florida. She answered a few questions that identified if her baby could be at risk for low birth weight, premature birth or death. Mayhew qualified and this pregnancy was different.
”With the first pregnancy. It was terrible. And I was going through different situations that weren’t healthy for the baby. My first baby was preterm. I had her one month, early,” said Mayhew.
Rebecca had a healthy start.
”She came out, she was overdue. She went probably a week past the due date,” said Mayhew.
Rebecca Wright is now 31 with a 12-year-old son, and she’s still learning lessons from mom.
”So I’m thankful, and I’m grateful for that,” said Wright.
She knows her mom’s experience has made her a better mother.
“Absolutely. I was able to see my mom go through various situations, but she has always, you know, showed us love, and she’s always given us health tips, and different life skills. So I’m able to, of course, pass that down to my son because of her,” said Wright.
Mayhew has done the work. She earned a degree, she runs a catering company and became everything Miss Fern imagined.
Mayhew has come full circle with room to make sure others get a healthy start too.
”We all need help at different times and stages in our life. At that time, I needed help, now I’m in a place where I can help others and I do try to give back in every way that I can,” said Mayhew.
Northeast Florida Healthy Start Coalition offers resources to the entire family. It offers a Fatherhood Pride program as well and a program to improve the health and well-being of women during their childbearing years, even if they don’t have a baby. Visit Northeast Florida Healthy Start Coalition to learn more.