Marty Irving is passionate about working with moms and babies in the Healthy Families program. “I love watching moms flourish. It’s awesome when I can see it working – the blossoms are coming out.”
Marty started as a Healthy Families home visitor 25 years ago, at the age of 50. Her first day on the job, she dressed up, went to the office and had to ask for the day off. “It was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, and I was in charge of the community celebration. I’d been working on the program since December, and hundreds of people were coming to the event, and I had to tell my new supervisors that I really needed the day off.” She has since continued the tradition, always using it as a day of service to others. She was thrilled when CAPS made it an official paid holiday two years ago.
Marty was one of only two home visitors in the brand-new Healthy Families program, going into homes on a weekly basis, providing support to new moms. She found joy in getting mothers to see possibilities for their future, and helping them set the goals that would get them there. She especially had a heart for single moms, wanting them to know they didn’t have to do this by themselves. She cites the example of a young mother who no longer wanted to depend on family members for housing. Marty helped her file for child support, and connected her with LaCasa and Habitat for Humanity to help reach her goals. Eventually that mom and her two children moved into the home she bought for herself.
A more recent success came through working with a mom of six struggling to make ends meet after losing a good job. She was determined not to “be in the system”, relying on her own ability to work. Marty encouraged her to use the resources available for her family and connected her to housing, food stamps and Medicaid for her children. The mother found employment and began setting goals to get out of debt. Every time she pays off another bill, she and Marty check it off the list. Marty also receives excited texts from the mom every time her credit score goes up. They recently celebrated a promotion for the mom, with a significant raise and benefits. Marty is confident she will reach her ultimate goal of providing her kids a home with a yard to play in.
Marty admits there has been some thorns as well among the blossoms. Learning that a child she worked with many years ago eventually dropped out of school and ended up in jail was one. “I kept asking myself what I could have done differently to help that family and that child.” Still, she says that out of the literal thousands of families she has worked with, there have been more highs than lows. “It’s the best job I’ve ever had, and I have loved it more than any other.” Marty retired this month, 25 years to the day since she started.
Marty plans to continue her volunteer work at Susannah’s Kitchen, the Lerner Theater and St. James AME church. She will also continue to serve at CAPS events. “I’ve volunteered at every auction, every breakfast and every 5k race so far.” She also says she can’t wait to travel again.
We are so thankful for Marty and her service to families for the past 25 years.
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