Polk County nonprofit helps mentor expecting moms

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When Nyree Velez found out she was pregnant, she felt alone and unprepared.

“I was scared,” she told FOX 13. “I cried I was so scared.”

Velez was a single mom, struggling financially and looking to find direction in her life.

The Early Learning Coalition of Polk County found out, stepped in, and assigned someone to help through the Nurse-Family Partnership.

A registered nurse visits and mentors young women who are considered at risk. The nurse makes home visits and is available to talk throughout the client’s pregnancy and more than a year after she gives birth.

They teach the mom how to raise a healthy, happy child. Nurses provide nutritional counseling, advice on parenting and emotional support.

“It is like the communities’ way of putting its arms around these moms and leading them in the right direction,’ explained Belinda Kramer a spokeswoman for the coalition.

Velez says her nurse provided more than just professional information. Something else happened along the way: they became good friends.

“It is just a bond you didn’t expect because that’s my nurse, but it turned into a lot more,” Velez said.

Her nurse, Kristin Nunez, agrees. Nunez says she and Velez now get along like sisters.

Nunez says she has seen an incredible change in Velez.

“She is much more confident. She is much more outgoing, assertive,” Nunez said. “She has really blossomed.”

The Nurse-Family Partnership is the only program of its kind in Polk County and serves about 126 clients.