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  • Sarah Waara

Holiday season brings families together in effort to reduce infant mortality

Maha Youngblood celebrates Christmas with her son at the Ascension Blanket of Love Christmas celebration.

Sharing in laughter and togetherness, more than 25 families from across Milwaukee attended the 4th Annual Blanket of Love Christmas Dinner at Ascension Ebenezer Resource Center located at Ebenezer Church of God in Christ.

All year long, Ascension Wisconsin’s Blanket of Love program provides expectant mothers and young families with the support, education and resources they need in an effort to reduce infant mortality and promote familial wellness. In the spirit of the holiday season, Ascension Blanket of Love families came together to celebrate by playing games, making ornaments, sharing a meal, and of course, enjoying presents for the children.

Blanket of Love creates a strong Sense of Community for Katie Church and her son Rennick. They enjoy the company of other parents and children at the Blanket of Love Christmas Celebration.

“I have been coming to Blanket of Love for a while and it’s just about finding community and other moms to support you. As a new mom, I’m learning a lot,” Katie Church said. “I don’t really have any family in the area so it’s nice to come to the Christmas party and get together with people and the friends I have made here. With all the stress of the holidays, it was nice to get out and remember what community is all about.”

Blanket of Love creates support through the combination of providing health and wellness education, sharing a welcoming meal and connecting parents and families with Ascension nurses, social workers, patient navigators and community members.

This year, more than 5,200 families have received educational, social and healthcare resources through Ascension Wisconsin’s Blanket of Love program. The services are delivered through Ascension hospitals, 36 Milwaukee churches, neighborhood centers, and community partners. 

Parents and children across Milwaukee enjoyed spending time together, eating dinner, celebrating Christmas, and opening presents at the Ascension Blanket of Love Christmas celebration.

“One of the most important things we do in Blanket of Love is recognize our families during the holiday season,” said Brenda Hoskins, MSW, a social worker with Ascension Wisconsin. “There are a lot of parents that tell me this is a particularly hard time of year for them. We try to bring them joy and a feeling of connectedness through community by having our southside and northside families come together for a wonderful Christmas dinner and gifts for the children.”

Blanket of Love’s main goal is to ensure more children in Milwaukee are born healthy and strong so they can celebrate their first birthday. 

“Education builds the foundation of behaviors and habits that have a positive impact on an individual's health,” Hoskins said. “With it being the season of giving, we wanted to make sure the gifts the children received were designed to help them learn and grow.” 

“When we say ‘blanket of love’ we mean we wrap you in a blanket of love,” Hoskins continued. “We want our families to then spread and share that love through their own family and our community. This season is about spreading and sharing love.”

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