The Naomi Project is an ecumenical program for mothers. Its mission is to work with high-risk pregnant and newly parenting women. The goals of the program are to promote healthy pregnancies, to foster good parenting skills, and to help women plan productively for their futures.
The Naomi Project is a cost effective, all volunteer effort. In its ten years of existence, its annual budget has been less than $5000 per year. In 2004, Naomi Project volunteers helped fifty-eight pregnant and newly parenting women. Thirty-two mentors, nine Area Coordinators, and nine support staff gave over 2230 reported hours to the project. Since its inception in 1995, 179 volunteers have helped 298 pregnant or newly parenting women.
The majority of referrals to the program come from the Fairfax County Health Department, Fairfax Hospital, and the Fairfax County Department of Human Services. Our clients range in age from 14 to 41. Our volunteers range in age from 26 to 67.
The Naomi Project is unique because it is an all-volunteer effort working with a diverse client population that represents the make-up of the community. Because volunteers are matched on a one-to-one basis, many of our clients experience for the first time a caring adult focusing specifically on them.
In 2005, the Virginia Council of Churches awarded the Naomi Project its Faith in Action Award, which recognizes persons or groups who exemplify personal faith commitment and who build bridges that make human community possible. The Naomi Project has been the recipient of other awards as well. In 1998, the Naomi Project was one of six local recipients of a $1000 JC Penney Golden Rule Award for volunteer service to the community. In 1999, the Naomi Project was chosen to receive the Fairfax County Volunteer Service Award for an Adult Volunteer Group in Human Services. For 2002 expenses, The Closet in Herndon awarded $5000 to the Naomi Project. In addition, in 2004, the Naomi Project received a $2000 grant from the Nancy and Jorge Kfoury Foundation.
The following is the story of one of the many women cared for through the Naomi Project:
Lori was Gayle’s first client. She left a verbally abusive second marriage, with her 13-year-old son from her first marriage. They lived in a shelter while going through a very messy divorce. Lori was undergoing treatment for depression and was on an anti-depressant. She was unemployed with limited training and skills. Lori decided that the stress and instability was proving too much on her 13-year-old son. She contacted the son’s father in Minnesota, who agreed to take the son in on a permanent basis. Lori started dating a man during the divorce, and at 36 years old, unemployed and in struggling mental health, became pregnant.
Gayle became Lori’s mentor when she was in her 7th month of pregnancy. Gayle was impressed at how Lori was very aware of services available and had seemed to arrange for the services she was entitled to receive. She and Gayle visited often in the months of December and January. They talked a lot. Gayle was impressed with her sensible nature. Lori told Gayle she had not told her family of the pregnancy for fear of rejection. Lori had discovered a new church and was gaining a lot of support through her contacts. In January, Lori became increasingly concerned about her ability to deal with a new child, and was terribly uncomfortable with the pregnancy. She was preparing her apartment for the child though, and the churchwomen gave her a baby shower. Gayle accompanied her to doctor’s appointments, hospital tour and helped with the baby’s room.
A few weeks before the baby’s birth, Lori confided to Gayle that the child would be biracial and she was very concerned about acceptance by friends, church, and family members. Lori had her baby by c-section in February of 2000. Gayle was with her through the birth and recovery. She was a natural mother and right away took great care with Victoria. Lori and Gayle’s relationship began to wane, with Lori’s increased support from her church. Lori found a job, good day care for Victoria and was making plans through her church to try to get a townhouse. Gayle felt the time was right to let their relationship end.