For Catrina Williams, serving women just comes naturally. Her own experience as a young, single mother and lessons learned from a nurturing grandmother help her support low-income women through pregnancy and parenting.
Williams was recently honored as an “Inspiring Mother of Georgia” at the Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition of Georgia (HMHB) Mother’s Day Luncheon alongside six First Ladies of Georgia, including Sandra Deal, for their work to improve maternal and infant health in Georgia.
“We received nominations from all over the state, and the women we read about blew us away. The stories shared about Ms. Williams and her work with the Center for Black Women’s Wellness really stood out,” said Elise Blasingame, HMHB’s executive director.
“I was surprised but excited to receive this award,” Williams reflected. “What I do – it just comes from my heart.”
Since 1988, The Center for Black Women’s Wellness (CBWW) has worked to address the physical, mental and economic needs of Atlanta’s African American women through comprehensive services.
For nearly 12 years, Williams has served as a Family Support Worker in CBWW’s, Atlanta Healthy Start Initiative. It’s a home visitation program for low-income pregnant women and parenting moms of children under age two.
“I provide prenatal and postnatal education, ensure each client has a medical home, and connect them to any social services they need,” Williams shared.
As of May, her caseload was 40 women, seven of whom were pregnant. She visits up to five women a day.
“I remember those experiences I had as a single mother being 21 with two kids in the inner city,” William said. “If your light bill is due, your focus is more on that light bill than going to your prenatal appointment. I come in and try to alleviate those worries.”
She connects these new moms to needed baby supplies, health care, transportation, food assistance and as well as employment and training through partners like Atlanta Workforce Development Agency.
Williams also knows what it’s like to live on government assistance and then work to achieve financial self-sufficiency.
“I stayed in Carver Homes, but I got to a point where I was like, I don’t want my kids to think this is it or this is how we’re going to live,” she said.
She put her children in childcare, took public transportation, kept a grueling work schedule and completed her GED. Williams volunteered in WIC’s Resource mother program and trained be a doula. WIC hired her and that’s where she learned about the work of CBWW, which she joined 12 years ago.
Williams has walked in her clients’ shoes but respects that each one has her own unique journey. During a home visit, she listens more than she talks. Her clients open up about what’s happening in their lives knowing that Williams is there for support. She also became certified lactation consulting to help new moms with breastfeeding.
“I don’t go in judgmental. I try to meet people where they are,” Williams said. “It’s surreal going to the place where I lived with my kids and going into these homes and serving.”