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MOM Series: Helping Other Mothers to Find Parental Education

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Whether you are a new or veteran parent, navigating parenthood presents challenges. Those challenges can be even more difficult to traverse if there is a lack of resources, services, or education. For Shanika Lucas, she has focused her professional career providing services to other mothers and children.

A mother of two, Lucas knows how difficult searching for parental education can sometimes be.

“When I first had children, I lived in a city that didn’t have as many resources as Kalamazoo,” she revealed. “I had to learn a lot of basic maternal things and about child development through the internet.

“I always had a wonderful family support system through my mother and husband but I found it difficult searching for parent education.”

After experiencing these hurdles herself, Lucas has pursued a career to help make services and education more available and accessible to other parents and families.

A 2008 Kalamazoo Central High School graduate, Lucas used The Promise to earn her bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from Western Michigan University (WMU). She eventually returned to WMU to pursue a master’s degree in Social Work, which she completed last June.

Looking back, she is appreciative of the opportunities The Promise afforded to her.

“I am a first-generation college graduate in my family. The Promise has been such a blessing to my life.”

Lucas was able to parlay her education into a career with the YWCA Kalamazoo’s (YWCA) WISH Program (WISH). This home visitation program keeps families engaged before, during, and after pregnancy. It also empowers participants to make decisions regarding their own health and the health of their children.

Using her platform as a member of this initiative, Lucas is determined to make a difference in her community.

“There is a high black infant mortality rate,” Lucas explained. “Some of the factors behind this issue are a lack of support and broken relationships, so I brought the idea of therapy to YWCA WISH. It is a goal of mine for the program to be implemented for families.

“If parents are not able to receive quality counseling or therapy, they have nowhere to turn to for help.”

Life as a working parent does have its challenges, but Lucas makes a point of taking time to decompress and recharge.

“My husband is a huge support,” she explained. “I am able to do a ladies’ night every Wednesday to take some time for myself.

“It is important to have some time away from the kids and make sure you are taking care of yourself. I also journal daily because it brings me peace and helps release thoughts from my head.”

For parents who may need additional support, Lucas recommends connecting with Gryhpon Place. She also stresses the importance of asking for help when it is needed.

“There are so many different programs that are helpful to both parents and young adults,” she shared. “It can be hard to ask for help but doing so is a major benefit for not only you but your family, too.”

That is some great advice, Shanika. We are glad that you are thriving as both a professional and a parent. Thank you for sharing your experiences and helping others find much-needed resources!

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