Improving the community one family at a time

This is a firsthand account from one of the Healthy Families-Family Specialists who serves families in Orange County.

Thanks to the generous support of donors like you, Healthy Families, a part of The Howard Phillips Center for Children & Families, serves both Orange and Osceola Counties and has attained a 98% success rate at preventing child abuse in the families served.

There was a slight chill in air, reminding me of winter’s departure. Soon the brutal Florida heat would be following me to each of my home visits.

It was a typical Wednesday in the inner city of downtown Orlando. I used to feel apprehensive about driving through this part of the city before I worked for Healthy Families, but the inner city can actually be quite calm at times; today was no exception and, in fact, it was a clear and sunny day.

I pulled up to my client’s cement block unit, which couldn’t have been more than 550 square feet, and home to her, her boyfriend and their two small children. Her boyfriend was at work, as usual, to provide for the family, while my client stayed home to care for their toddler and newborn. Today she spoke at great length about her desire to return to school and further her education in order to find a better job than the one she had before she became pregnant.

She talked about the stress of living in this part of the city and spoke of her desire to live in a place where she felt it would be safer for her children to play outside. Together, the client and I discussed barriers and challenges, and then ways she could overcome them in order to reach her goal to be successful for herself and her family.

At the session’s end, she stopped me as I was walking to my car and said, “I just want you to know that I am really glad you are my counselor and that you listen to me and don’t judge me. I feel because of counseling, I’m able to make healthier decisions; to stop and think before I react with negative actions or even to stop negative thoughts I might have. I’m a healthier person and I’m going to be the best mom to my children that I can. Thank you so much for helping me and my family.” I smiled and said, “You’re welcome.”

As I walked back to my car, I realized that today was not a typical day — it was one of those amazing days when I got to see the difference that I always hoped to make in someone’s life. This is why I chose to be a counselor — this one-day makes every day worth getting out of bed and coming in to work.

The Healthy Families Orange & Healthy Families Osceola, part of The Howard Phillips Center for Children & Families, provides parents with support and resources to be healthy, responsible and supportive role models for their children.