‘Healthy Families’ brings results

Published 9:37 pm Monday, August 20, 2012

There wasn’t a dry eye in the house — mine included — as Aimee Cross concluded her speech at the Healthy Families graduation on Friday.

Cross, who got pregnant while attending Howard University and dropped out when she delivered her daughter at the age of 20, was recalling the struggle of the last three years. Most folks in the room followed her lead when she started crying tears of joy.

“I counted myself out,” she told the group of about 30 who came to witness the graduation of seven families.

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That phrase was the one that got to me the most. It was just too much for me to bear that such a young woman could just drop out — not just from college, but from a life full of meaning and purpose — because of one mistake.

But things got better for Cross. With the encouragement of her Healthy Families support worker, she attended pharmacy technician school and graduated as the valedictorian, passed her board exam on the first try, and got a job that is helping her pay off her college loans and even paying for her to go back to school.

Her adorable daughter has met all her development goals, including being toilet-trained before her second Christmas and learning to tie her own shoes at the age of 3.

Although Cross and the others who graduated from the program on Friday made their own successes, the Healthy Families program certainly helped.

The Healthy Families program is financed partially by state and local governments and partially with private funds. It is clear it is helping these young families find the success that was there for them all along.

In past budget cycles, funding for the Healthy Families program has been threatened as officials look to trim fat in these austere times. However, a program that is producing results and saving the government money further down the road can hardly be spared.

The next time you’re writing your local or state elected official, put in a good word for the Healthy Families program. It just might help the program stick around for future generations of mothers who thought they needed to count themselves out.