MOMS Orange County serves our community through the commitment of many dedicated people working in collaboration with one another to educate and support our clients. These individuals put into motion the mission of MOMS Orange County through their hands, feet, hearts and minds. In this Lil’ Bits edition, we will introduce you to two of the many valuable people at MOMS Orange County who bring our mission to life.
Home Visitors and Health Educators Becky Vo (pictured left) who teaches Vietnamese Breastfeeding and Gestational Diabetes classes and Annie Nguyen (pictured right) who teaches Vietnamese Mommy & Me class.
Becky Vo and Annie Nguyen are Vietnamese Home Visitors at MOMS Orange County. Orange County is home to the largest Vietnamese community living outside of Vietnam. As frontline staff, Home Visitors are the eyes, ears and voices of the organization’s mission. Their knowledge, care and compassion lay the foundation in which a client’s trust is built upon. Home visitors work directly with clients each and every day to serve the needs of families in our community. Recently, Becky and Annie also began teaching Vietnamese Health Education classes which include Diabetes Prevention, Breastfeeding and Mommy & Me developmental activities classes. We took a moment to get to know our Vietnamese Home Visitors.
Thank you for making time to talk with us. Tell us – what initially drew you to MOMS Orange County?
Annie: A friend first told me about MOMS and as soon as I read the mission statement I was drawn to the opportunity to work directly with client families. I resonated with the idea that in order to help our community, we need to help families have healthy babies. It was great to know such a program was in existence in the community.
Becky: I met and worked with Pam (CEO) while I was providing Prenatal Support Services through Planned Parenthood at the hospital clinics. She told me about MOMS and its work in the community. Quite simply, I believed in Pam and her ability to lead MOMS and wanted to join her to carry out the mission. To me, I think the key component of our success is the leadership and management team and their support of the frontline staff in our everyday work.
What is something many people may not know about your work?
Annie: Working with clients, we make an impact on not only the mother and her baby but the entire family. Although it is our focus, MOMS is not only about pregnancy, baby care and infant development. Home visitors are well-trained and well-informed on other community resources to pass onto the family. Since we are in the home on a regular basis and Vietnamese families often live in multi-generational households, we encounter other needs and can make referrals to help other family members.
Becky: I completely agree. I may come to visit the mother but will also end up referring grandparents to supportive senior services, perhaps a class for another sibling and smoking cessation classes for the father. It is great to see the reach of MOMS going beyond just the mother and baby.
What is a barrier for the Vietnamese community that many people may not know?
Becky: Many of the Vietnamese clients we work with are newly arrived to the US (less than 5 years). There is a level of social isolation and lack of support system that many Vietnamese clients experience that would be surprising to many. They do not have much outside contact with anyone other than their doctor and husband. So, it’s great that we are able to visit, inform them of community resources and options available all while building a trust relationship so they can make informed decisions and be empowered to help themselves.
What can be challenging about being a Home Visitor specifically serving Vietnamese clients?
Annie: As with anyone, it can be challenging to establish the trust relationship with clients. We often have our first meeting at the office before scheduling a home visit. It takes a lot of trust to allow someone who is not a family member to step into your home. Over time, as we continue to visit, it becomes easier for clients to open up and share more of their lives
Becky: For me, it can be quite challenging to find culturally accessible resources in Vietnamese for clients. Even though OrangeCounty has such a large Vietnamese community, there are limited Vietnamese resources for our clients while most English-only materials are hard for monolingual Vietnamese clients to understand.
What makes MOMS Orange County so important to our community?
Annie: MOMS has taught me that the health and well-being of the baby greatly affects the health and well-being of the entire family and vice-versa. As a Home Visitor, we encourage and empower each mother to make healthy decisions for not only herself but her baby and the entire family. When we educate and empower the mother, we see the impact on the entire family.
Becky: Yes, with Vietnamese families, you’ll sometimes have the father, grandparents, aunts and uncles present at the visit. At first, they might be there out of just curiosity or even skepticism but the result is that the father and sometimes the larger family, becomes more involved in the care and health of the baby and is a better support to both mom and baby. Dad will begin going to doctor’s visits and even attends classes with mom. In my role, the most important thing for my clients to know or feel is trust in what I can offer on behalf of MOMS. With that, it improves their confidence in themselves, empowers them and subsequently, impacts the health of the family and by extension, the health of our larger community.
Annie: The mother feels more empowered when she no longer feels alone. She advocates for her own health and the health of her baby. We not only care about the health and well-being of mom and baby but the entire family.
Tell me about your “self” outside of MOMS Orange County.
Annie: I was born and raised in Vietnam until the age of 12 years and I came to the United States with my parents and three siblings. I live with my husband and son in Garden Grove. I actually became pregnant a year after I began working at MOMS and if not for everything I’ve gained in knowledge and understanding, I would have been like any other new mother – anxious and worried with questions about birth and baby care. My son Nathan is now a healthy five year old. I love the outdoors and seek balance in my life. Something others might not know about me is although I often come across as very reserved or shy, I actually love to talk, crack silly jokes and get to know people.
Becky: I was born and raised in Vietnam until I came to the United States when I was 20 years old. I come from a very large family and now live with my husband, two kids, dog and birds. I enjoy hanging out with my kids, shopping, eating, being outdoors and am active in my church and the Couples Ministry. I enjoy being sociable, talking and listening. I am an open book and enjoy sharing my knowledge, experiences and stories with everyone.
Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with us!