TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - For local Tucson mom Raquel Sutton, the struggle to establish a solid base for her and her child wasn’t easy...until she found the MAMA program.
Sutton says she stumbled on it while at the Kino Service Center. Seeing the last flyer and grabbing it, she decided to sign up and since then she says her life has completely changed.
“Honestly my experience was life changing. I really acquired a lot of friends and resources and just different ways to gain stability as a mom here in Arizona,” Sutton explains.
The MAMA (Mothers in Arizona Moving Ahead) program was established a little over a year ago. It’s a joint effort between the Pima County Health Department and Pima County Employment and Training. Essentially, the goal of the program is to connect local moms who are struggling with the resources they need to succeed whether it be employment, housing, childcare etc. The moms work with a program navigator who helps them to set goals and works with them, as an equal partner, to achieve those goals.
“MAMA isn’t just a group of single moms. It’s about connecting and networking and being able to have access to resources that you never knew you had access to,” Sutton says of the program.
The program typically runs about a year in length and includes workshops, classes, and presentations covering a wide spectrum of things like legal assistance for mothers facing eviction or other legal action for example. MAMA brings together people from three different areas: moms in poverty, healthcare professionals, and volunteers representing the Pima County community. Together all of those people work to help the moms participating to get on track to achieve their goals along with better health and financial stability.
Recently the first wave of moms in the program completed the program and while that was a major accomplishment for them, it also left a long lasting impact on some of the county workers who mentored them through the process.
“I thought I was just going to come in and work with some moms and try to teach them about health and why it’s important," MAMA program navigator Tina Limon says. "And it turned into so much more. It turned into really making relationships with some wonderful women and getting to see the growth in them and getting to see them really strive to change their life, and I think it’s some of the greatest work I’ve ever done in my life.”
Now that most of the first group of women have completed the program the county tells KOLD News 13 that they already have nearly 100 local women who have applied for the second wave of the program. In order to help facilitate and further make the program a community effort, the county says they’re looking for local volunteers to help navigate the moms through the program. If you’re interested in volunteering or being a program participant email Bonnie Bazata, the program manager for Pima County’s Ending Poverty Now initiative, at Bonnie.Bazata@pima.gov.