At the time, BHS was seeking someone who could fill the varied role of a Neighborhood Health Advocate (NHA). As one of the first and consistent points of contact for a mother, an NHA performs monthly to bi-monthly home visits and provides individualized support to each family for the duration of a mother's pregnancy and through the first 11 months of a child's life. Keyawna applied immediately.
"I wasn't a Neighborhood Health Advocate, but I knew I could fit the description that they were talking about." Keyawna's interview with the Executive Director of Baltimore Healthy Start went very well; however, due to funding limitations, they weren't able to offer her the position. The unfortunate news didn't deter the passionate health care professional. Keyawna called every month for over a year until she got the news she had been waiting for, the position was hers.
As a mother of five and a medical professional, together her skills and life experience go beyond what many see on paper. "...A lot of our moms don't have someone to look up to, and even though my job is a neighborhood health advocate, I'm like a mentor to them, and they look up to me. I meet all of my clients where they are, and I let them know that I was once in your shoes before."
Since joining the Baltimore Healthy Start team in 2018, Keyawna has taken every professional development opportunity available to better serve mothers and families, including becoming a certified doula. Now, working as an NHA and a doula, she can make even more of an impact on her clients' lives, "Usually a doula only does two prenatal appointments. By me being an NHA and a doula, they get extra benefits because I see them from the time they get pregnant all the way until the baby turns 11 months. So I'm there on a day-to-day basis...