Community of Hope

Grantee Story

During her first pregnancy, Mercedez Milling-Robinson realized that she needed a different sort of care if she were ever going to have another child. Her first born, Marcus S. Robinson is doing well today, but throughout her pregnancy Mercedez felt her care was too impersonal — at times, even disrespectful. The ability to have caregivers who are supportive of expecting parents’ wishes, are willing to listen, and work with them during their entire journey is something all parents deserve. Mercedez and her husband, Marcus Robinson were hoping that they could find that experience next time.

When she became pregnant a second time, she chose Community of Hope’s Family Health and Birth Center, the only free-standing birth center in Washington, D.C., and currently the only place where a person can give birth in the entire eastern half of the city.

Becoming a parent is a daunting endeavor, and in the district, which faces a maternal mortality rate 50% higher than the national average, the challenge is great. Black women in Washington are three- to four-times more likely to die from childbirth-related complications than non-Hispanic white women. Meanwhile, babies born to families who live in Washington’s poorest neighborhoods are 10-times less likely to make it to their first birthday than their peers in wealthier areas.

To meet these challenges head-on, the Family Health and Birth Center partners with families throughout the prenatal and postnatal periods, from prenatal care to lactation support and home visiting. Expectant mothers enjoy comprehensive medical care, certified nurse midwife services, perinatal care coordination, doulas and pregnancy support groups. Mercedez joined Community of Hope’s CenteringPregnancy® group that combines community support, health education and medical care in a one-of-a-kind program. Community of Hope also provides family healthcare, emotional wellness and other critical family supports.

With the support of her midwife and the trained doulas, Mercedez’s second and third pregnancies and births went according to her wishes, without stress or worry. Her young children are healthy and growing fast.

Stories like those of the Milling-Robinson family make the Clark Foundation proud to partner with Community of Hope. Learning that the Family Health and Birth Center would lose its lease in 2022, the Clark Foundation invested $7.5 million to help purchase and renovate a new permanent site for the center that is just one mile away and along the same bus route as the current facility, ensuring uninterrupted continuation of care.

Through this investment and others, the Clark Foundation has committed $93 million in total over the next five years through its Parent-Child Health Initiative to help local health care providers improve health outcomes for children and their families with low incomes and limited access to care in Washington, D.C. Community of Hope, along with other partners in the initiative, is committed to achieving this goal not only through its own great work but through meaningful, intentional collaboration with other leading health care providers across the city.

Mercedez is a testament to the value of such investments. “Community of Hope is like no other,” she says. “Even if it’s just a conversation, they are there to help.”

Media Contact: Sarah Elbert, Communications Manager Sarah.Elbert@clarkfoundationdc.org