The Provide Experience: Using Resources and Making Connections
by Sara Kaye Larson, Provide Storyteller and Content Marketing Officer
I came on board as the Provide Storyteller just over six months ago. When I got the job I felt like I won the nonprofit work lottery. I was so impressed with the way Provide works to increase access to abortion care. Our program acknowledges the barriers and challenges surrounding this topic in different health care systems as well as the personal and social concerns of the people that work in these systems. Our approach to increasing access to safe, nonjudgmental abortion care is centered around the health and social service workers that serve women facing unintended pregnancy. As the Storyteller, I know this center is where the stories are and where we can open up a useful conversation. To get to know these workers, I’m starting a monthly blog series featuring people who have participated in our Abortion Referrals Trainings. It’s a chance to learn more about the people we train, how our trainings support their work, and hopefully create a space where other health and social service workers can recognize themselves and learn about how others deal with the rewards and challenges of working with abortion referrals.
NETWORKING AND RESOURCES: A COMBINATION THAT MADE ONE PUBLIC AFFAIRS SPECIALIST IN TENNESSEE VERY HAPPY
Nicole tells me that she is a Public Affairs Specialist for a mayor’s office in Tennessee. I know the city Nicole works in pretty well, so I am extra intrigued by her insider access. “You wouldn’t believe the calls we get,” she says— I appreciate how open she is about it. “We get people asking for information on everything. It’s like they think the mayor is a wizard. We get a nice bird’s-eye view of what’s happening in our city—all the different concerns and issues of the citizens.”
Before I have a chance to bring it up, she tells me that she was so excited to participate in the Provide training because the resource hotline she organizes gets a minimum of three calls a week about unintended pregnancies. “We get both men and women calling asking about their options. They just don’t know what’s out there… our city is very resource-rich, but people don’t know how to access those resources.”
She says that the mayor is very proactive about getting current resource information, and, despite being in what she calls “The Bible Belt,” the office where she works is very open and practical about their approach to resources on pregnancy. I learn that her compassion and understanding have roots stemming from personal experience and her early work in the county’s Infant Mortality Program. She’s also grateful to have the structural support from county leadership. “The mayor knows the statistics, the infant mortality rate, the high teen pregnancy rate, the high pregnancy rate in certain low income areas. We have to talk about it and find resources for our citizens.”
Nicole gushes about how helpful the Provide training was for her work. “I loved the training and just love learning about stuff like that is interesting to me – the activities were great, the conversations were great, and just being there with a mixture of people and kind of hearing about the different stigmas and stereotypes that go along with pregnancy,” she says.
She says she learned a lot from other attendees, too. They were a mix of workers from the area: nurses, people from the health department, and other hospital workers. One person even traveled from Arkansas to attend. “The biggest value to me was when we were able to share what resources were available in different areas. The networking aspect was great.”
She is excited to tell me that she’s already put what she learned in the training to use. “We have a resource guide that we use in the mayor’s office. We were able to update that with some of the resources that I found out about at the training. So if people in our Action Center pick up a call that happens to be a call like that, they can direct them to what’s available.”
“I feel good because we are better equipped now,” she says, “It was a great training. I left there like, Okay, I can conquer the world!”
With that kind of enthusiasm, I believe her.