When you look into the eyes of the Self Family you know there is love in their home. Joshua and Crystal have so many dreams for their lives that they sometimes find it hard to see how far they have already come. Just a few short years ago, the couple was living in a two-bedroom apartment that had only a kitchen table and a TV. They slept on an air mattress on the floor of one of their bedrooms.
Through the hard times, Life Management Center employees have been there for them through our Healthy Families program. When Crystal was 8 months into her pregnancy with their son, J.J., they were referred to the program and staff began working with them to know what to expect with a new baby.
“We have been to the bottom of the bottom, of the bottom,” stated Joshua. “Now we are fortunate enough to have a program that is there when we need it.”
The Healthy Families program is a nationally accredited, community based, voluntary home visitation program that is proven to prevent child abuse and neglect and other poor childhood outcomes by promoting positive parent-child relationships and child health and development. Families are also linked to a medical provider and other family support services they need during their participation in the program.
Cathy Harcus, program director, describes the program as having your own personal parenting coach walking you through each milestone of your child’s early years. “Quote from Cathy”
Crystal Self is quick to point out the program has helped them anytime they had questions or had another need. She says the Healthy Families staff is quick to step in with advice or whatever help they needed. A couple of examples that Crystal share are when they wanted J.J. to begin sleeping in his own bed, and then again when they wanted to wean him off of formula, and even when they were concerned about when he would start talking. “We started wondering why isn’t he talking,” said Crystal. “Healthy Families helped us through that and now we sometimes wish he would stop talking.”
Joshua explained that there were times money was tight and they had to pawn some of their belongings just to buy diapers for J.J. The Healthy Families program helped them with this too and they were able to get diapers and other necessities from the program through “Baby Bucks” they earned as they reached goals set through the program.
Despite their own hardships, or maybe because of their hardships, Josh and Crystal give back when they can. They explain when they no longer have a need for something that they give it to someone who does need it. For example, when J.J. no longer needed baby food they donated their remaining supply back to the Healthy Families program to help other families.
“That’s the way a community and friends has got to be,” explained Joshua. “We know how it feels to be at the very, very bottom.”
The Healthy Families program works with each family to set goals and then provides support for them as they work toward reaching those goals. Joshua and Crystal have met several goals already including J.J. walking, talking, and sleeping in his own bed; Crystal obtaining her driver’s license; and Joshua maintaining steady employment. Future goals include moving into a larger house to have room for a new baby on the way and Crystal’s father who is living with them.
The family is expecting an addition in December. They have named the unborn boy Lucius Cole, which means “bringer of light.”