MISSION OF THE NAOMI PROJECT
The Naomi Project is a program of the Virginia Council of Churches. It is an ecumenical, all volunteer, resource mothers program. This year marks the 18th Anniversary of the Naomi Project. Its mission is to work with high-risk pregnant and newly parenting women. The goals of the program are to promote healthy pregnancies, to foster good parenting skills, and to help our clients plan productively for their futures.
The Naomi Project is a cost effective, all volunteer effort. In its eighteen years of existence, its annual budget has been less than $5000 per year. In 2012, Naomi Project volunteers helped thirty-four pregnant and newly parenting women. Thirty mentors, twelve area coordinators, and eleven support staff gave over 1700 reported hours to the project. Since its inception in 1995, 299 volunteers have helped 505 women.
The majority of referrals to the program come from the Fairfax County Health Department, Fairfax Hospital, and the Fairfax County Department of Human Services. Our clients range in age from 14 to 46. Our volunteers range in age from 26 to 79.
The Naomi Project is unique because it is an all-volunteer effort working with a diverse client population that represents the make-up of the community. Because volunteers are matched on a one-to-one basis, many of our clients experience for the first time a caring adult focusing specifically on them.
RECOGNITION BY THE COMMUNITY
In 1998 the Naomi Project was one of six local recipients of the JC Penney Golden Rule Award for volunteer service to the community. A check in the amount of $1000.00 was awarded to the Naomi Project.
In 1999 the Naomi Project was chosen to receive the Fairfax County Volunteer Service Award for an Adult Volunteer Group in Human Services.
For 2002 expenses, The Closet in Herndon awarded $5000 to the Naomi Project.
In 2004, the Naomi Project was supported by private donations from the community, gifts from local churches and by a $2000 grant from the Nancy and Jorge Kfoury Foundation.
In 2005, the Virginia Council of Churches awarded the Naomi Project its Faith in Action Award, which recognizes persons or groups who exemplify personal faith commitment and who build bridges that make human community possible.
In 2006, the Naomi Project received the Nice Guys Award in the Organization category from Acacia Federal Savings Bank. The award included a $3000 grant and a trophy constituting a glass globe of the world following their theme of "Change Your World". The Naomi Project is indeed proud to receive this award as there were many worthy organizations nominated.
In 2007, donatons were received from various organizations and private individuals. We are particularly moved by the generosity of one family which has supported the program for the last seven years.
In 2008, St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church designated the Naomi Project as the recipient of its Sunday tithing donations for the weekend of February 17.
In 2009 and 2010, the Naomi Project was honored to receive continued support from a global corporaton with an office in Ashburn, Va., from the St. John Neumann Church Mothers' Group, and from a very generous, local family.
In 2011, The Closet in Herndon awarded $1000 to the Naomi Project. In addition, we have continued to receive for the last twelve years the generous support of a local family. Also, this is the fifth year we have received support from a global corporation located in Ashburn. Moreover, there has been support from other local donors.
To implement the mission and goals of the Naomi project the following groups and procedures have evolved:
The Naomi Project has an Advisory Board drawn from the health care community (who make referrals to the program), and from the Naomi Project staff. Staff members who sit on the board include the three Program Directors, the Training Committee Chairwoman, the Newsletter Editor, the Publicity Chairwoman, the Community Liaisons Chairwoman, and the seven Area Coordinators. Board members provide input into the running of the program and promote the program to the broad community. They evaluate the effectiveness of the program and strive to keep the program faithful to its goals.
The Steering Committee comprises only Naomi Project volunteers who have assumed positions of extra responsibility in the running of he program. They include the Program Directors, the Chairwomen of various committees, the Newsletter Editor, and the seven Area Coordinators. The Steering committee devotes itself to the day-to-day operation of the Program and how to make these operations more efficient.
Volunteers are supervised by Area Coordinators who report to the Program Directors. All Area Coordinators have been with the Naomi Project for several years and have demonstrated leadership, reliability, creativity and compassion. These senior volunteers accompany new volunteers on first home visits and utilize their own experiences to guide the new volunteers in establishing goals for their mentoring relationships. With first hand knowledge of the client's needs, each Area Coordinator can be a more realistic support for the mentors assigned to them. In addition, the buddy system provides a measure of safety for the initial visit. As the program expands, the number of area coordinators increases.
There are two volunteer trainings per year. Volunteers become aware of the program through the Volunteer Center, through notices posted in various churches, and through newspaper publicity. The program has been able to attract volunteers with language skills representing the ethnically diverse nature of the community. The program averages twenty new volunteers per year. More than half of the volunteers take on a new referral when their first match has ended.
After going through an eight-hour training, volunteers are matched in one-on-one mentoring relationships with high-risk pregnant and newly parenting women. The Naomi Project makes a commitment to be with the women referred to the program until their children reach the age of three.
A program newsletter is published four times a year. The newsletter is written and edited by a Naomi volunteer. The newsletter has developed into a vehicle for volunteer communication and for spreading information about the program to the health care community.
Community Liaisons foster linkages with other health care agencies. In 2008, Community Liaisons represented the Naomi Project at meetings of Access to Health Care, the Reston Brown Bag, the Northern Virginia Regional Perinatal Council, and Beginning Steps for Parents. Community Liaisons are all senior volunteers who are able to draw on their own experience of mentoring, and they make a valuable contribution to these groups.
Publicity about the Naomi Project is disseminated to the community at large through newspaper articles, church bulletins, community newsletters, parenting magazines, radio station announcements, etc.
Naomi Project mentors file monthly reports as do the Area Coordinators who supervise them. These reports are a valuable tool for evaluating the success of the program. Another method of evaluating the success of the program is from the oral reports of the health care providers who make the referrals. As one public health nurse said, the client she referred to the program has achieved goals that it was not apparent she was capable of when she first came into the health care system.
NAOMI GOALS CHECKLIST
The concept of shared responsibility for the success of the program has evidenced itself in other important ways. One of the Area Coordinators took the initiative of consolidating the program's objectives into the Naomi Goals Checklist. Starting with the Spring '98 training, the Checklist became an integral part of volunteer training. A Goals Checklist is opened on each client and used by the volunteer to set teaching goals and to record the client's progress.
NAOMI PROJECT CALENDAR
Another Area Coordinator, responding to the Naomi Project goal of teaching clients to use their time more efficiently, came up with the idea for a Naomi Project Calendar. This calendar is given to all new clients. The clients are then urged to record their various health care appointments on the calendar, as well as other time commitments which are important to the smooth running of their family life. There is also a place on the calendar for important phone numbers such as 911, Poison Control, Health Care Provider, and the client's Naomi Volunteer.
Independent Project Analysis, Inc., generously gave NP $500, having nominated our organiza-tion for a gift three years in a row. The company provides consulting in project evaluation
NAOMI STORAGE CLOSET
A Naomi Project member who has been with the program since its inception saw the need for a storage place for items that are donated to the program for our clients. She and her husband have generously shared a portion of their basement where cribs, strollers, and other baby equipment items in good condition are held until they are passed on to a needy client. This has proved to be valuable asset for Naomi Project clients.
To encourage Naomi Project clients to read to their children, each client receives a set of age-appropriate books for her child/children over the next year. Mentors model the kind of reading behavior that promotes parent-child bonding. Mentors also plan related activities, such as a visit to the local library.
The Naomi Project Reading Coordinator oversees book selection The Mothers’ Club of St. John Neumann Catholic Church in Reston provides financial support to maintain this program.
As the Naomi Project expanded, volunteers expressed a need for more linkage with their fellow volunteers. Now two follow-up meetings a year are held for all volunteers. The format at these meetings is a guest speaker followed by discussion, and then a period of volunteer sharing of experiences and offering of mutual support.