MOMS ORANGE COUNTY RECOGNIZES THE 2015 “MOTHER OF THE YEAR” AND RAISED OVER $58,000 AT 5th ANNUAL “HEALTHY BEGINNINGS, BRIGHT FUTURES” LUNCHEON
Readiness Learning Associates Founder and STEM Educator Carrie Lynne Draper Presented the “Planting Seeds: Growing Confident Problem Solvers” Keynote to 185 Community Leaders, Health Officials and Nonprofit Supporters
ANAHEIM, Calif. (May 13, 2015) — MOMS Orange County, a nonprofit helping at-risk mothers and their families have healthy babies for 23 years, hosted its “Healthy Beginnings, Bright Futures” luncheon on May 7 at Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel in Anaheim to honor MOMS Orange County’s “Mother of the Year” and promote the importance of early infant development to more than 185 attendees. Emmy Award-winning KTLA 5 reporter and Weekend Morning News anchor Lynette Romero served as emcee of the fifth annual event, which was presented by Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian and raised more than $58,000 for the organization.
No Disability Could Hold Back the “Client Mother of the Year” from a Healthy Baby
For more than two decades, MOMS Orange County has served mothers from all walks of life, all facing different challenges. What these women have in common is their decision to pursue a healthy, positive future for her family. And every year, MOMS Orange County recognizes one client who excels in her pursuit, setting an example for her family as well as the community at large.
This year, Fountain Valley resident Gina Pito earned the “Client Mother of the Year” award. This Orange County native suffered injuries from a car accident 13 years ago, which left her confined to a wheelchair. At age 35, the Pito family learned of Gina’s first pregnancy. Amid the joy of becoming parents, Pito acknowledged the challenges she would face.
Pito joined the nonprofit’s home visitation program after learning about it during a Lamaze class, and became immersed immediately in the one-to-one education provided.
“Our home visitation program is intimate, giving mothers the freedom to work with a Maternal Child Health Coordinator in their own homes and to develop a bond with someone who will provide support during the journey of pregnancy and the first year of the baby’s life,” said Pamela Pimentel, RN, CEO of MOMS Orange County. “This model not only worked for Gina, but outside evaluation also validates that our program is raising children’s health and developmental levels well above the general U.S. population.”
During these visits, Pito benefitted from invaluable maternal health screenings and education, including gestational diabetes-prevention support, all conducted by a highly trained Maternal Child Health Coordinator. MOMS Orange County continued its home visits during the first year of her baby’s life, focusing on infant health and development screenings for daughter Madison.
As Madison became mobile, Pito continued her education to address her disability and learn how to keep up with the on-the-go toddler. She enrolled in MOMS Orange County’s Mommy & Me program, a series of classes geared toward stimulating a baby’s mental and physical development providing socialization opportunities for mothers in a creative group environment. With this additional support, Madison completed all of her developmental screenings successfully, and the mother-daughter duo graduated from the home visitation program in February 2015.
Keynote Poses Strategies for Fostering STEM Education Among Kids from Birth
The executive director of Readiness Learning Associates, Carrie Lynne Draper wowed those in attendance with research suggesting that even newborns and babies can explore their own learning processes using STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). During her presentation she invited the audience to integrate their understanding of the real world by exploring the texture, smell and color of real oranges from the table centerpiece.
Her presentation, “Planting Seeds: Growing Confident Problem Solvers,” covered key research advancing attendees’ understanding and application of STEM among the youngest learners. Draper made the case to introduce infants and youngsters to science, technology, engineering and math in a developmentally appropriate and culturally sensitive way.
Her chief reason is that children are “born to engineer.” Kids are innately curious. They wonder how things work and seek to understand how things are made. Their exploration of the world requires an environment where they can ask questions, create, design and test their theories as they develop math and science skills. This connects to children’s need to foster their problem-solving skills and grow as confident learners.
Changing Lives Requires Community Investment
Luncheon sponsors included Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian, The Goldwin Foundation, Kaiser Permanente, Union Bank, Disneyland Resort, St. Joseph Health, St. Joseph Hospital of Orange,, UC Irvine Health, and PIMCO Foundation.
Plus, a Grand Prize Drawing was hosted for a chance to win a day at Disneyland Resort for a family of four (a $855 value) donated by The Disneyland Resort. Attendees also had the chance to enter opportunity drawings to win fine dining, sports and entertainment experiences donated by the Aquarium of the Pacific (a $57.90 value), Marriott Anaheim (a $280 value), True Food Kitchen (a $25 value), Slater’s 50/50 (a $20 value), Discovery Cube (a $67.80 value), Daphne’s California Greek (a $40 value), Hollywood Wax Museum (a $67.96 value), SeaLegs Wine Bar (a $25 value), California Fish Grill (a $25 value), earthbath (a $80 value), Reunion Kitchen + Drink (a $25 value), Home Run Park Batting Cages (a $100 value) and Whole Foods Huntington Beach (a $50 value). Highlights included a $200 gift card to Fig & Olive Restaurant & a romantic one-night stay-cation at the Anaheim Marriott.
Says Pimentel, “We are deeply grateful for the community’s support in making this event another great success in order to best serve our client families.”
Plus, the Fund-a-Need portion of the event raised over $9K to support MOMS Orange County’s Infant Health and Development Program, which can reduce and even prevent long-term developmental delay consequences through developmental screenings, education and referrals.
Event funds will enable MOMS Orange County to continue to expand its critical work in supporting women and their families at one of the most crucial times in their lives — when they first take on the enormous responsibilities and challenges of motherhood.
About MOMS Orange County
For 23 years, MOMS Orange County has been helping at-risk mothers and their families have healthy babies by providing access to prenatal care, health screenings, infant development screenings, health education and referral services through monthly home visits and group classes. Mothers receive one-on-one education and support during pregnancy to help increase their chance of delivering a healthy baby. After babies are born, the focus turns to promoting their healthy growth and development so they grow up happy, healthy and ready to learn. To learn more about MOMS Orange County, visitwww.momsorangecounty.org.