Jackie Tran, Lifespan Local
Lifespan Local’s Alma Project centers community and skill-building for parents and caregivers
Alma is a home visitation program for pregnant parents or caregivers who take care of children up to the age of three. Serving the neighborhoods of Southwest Denver and East JeffCo, the program focuses on mental health, resiliency, and well-being for the individual and for the whole family.
At home visits, Alma peer mentors work to strengthen parents through open conversation and skill-building activities. These exercises allow caregivers to practice:
- Identifying and addressing emotions
- Identifying core values and beliefs
- Identifying healthy activities for themselves and their families
- Creative problem solving
- Healthy communication
Beyond skill building and learning exercises, Alma prioritizes community connection above all else. For many families in these communities, there is confusion or often distrust of the resources and organizations who are providing services or support. Alma peer mentors serve as trustworthy companions and connectors to resources. They work to build strong relationships and to create an environment of warmth and non-judgment with their assigned families.
The first meeting is spent learning from each other and giving parents time to talk openly. Parents often identify challenging thoughts or emotions, and mentors will help them think through their circles of connection and support.
“Moms tell us ‘Alma is my time. I get to talk to you, and I feel safe.’”– Adriana Rubiano, Peer Mentor
“Alma allows parents a safe space to talk about their emotions, if they’re feeling alone or sad or depressed. We are someone they can talk to and be open with, especially if they don’t have someone in their own families. They can release inner burden and tension. We are there and we listen.”– Leyla Abdi, Peer Mentor
The program spans across 8-10 home visits and usually concludes within three months. But due to the connections built, families often stay engaged, attending events or even volunteering at La Casita Blanca, where Alma is housed.
It is Lifespan Local’s priority that services and programming are responsive to families and community. This extends to Alma, where all events and offerings are culturally responsive and seek to fulfill community needs and gaps in the resources. We offer monthly events, weekly diaper and clothing distribution, lactation, pregnancy, and parenting classes, and other activities such as cooking classes and Alma Kids (child play and socialization).
We are constantly listening to and learning from the community. In order to work with as many populations as possible, Alma currently offers services in Spanish, English, Vietnamese, and Somali.
“We focus on the cultural piece. Each peer mentor works with a specific community. Some people don’t seek help because of the language barrier. With Alma, people aren’t afraid to voice their concerns or ask for help. They can relate to us, and we learn so much from them as well.”– Ngan Vo, Peer Mentor