MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis has some of the highest infant and maternal mortality rates in the country. The 38126 zip code is around two to three times higher than the national average, according to the Memphis Chapter of the NAACP.
“We want these women to have the best possible outcome they can have with their baby,” said Joell Archibald, Retired RN and one of the people behind the new MyBaby4Me program. “That disparity is even wider when you look at women who live in the suburbs and the women who live in this 38126 zip code - there is a big difference in health outcomes for those infants and women.”
Archibald and her husband Lynn packed up their things and made their way to Memphis around six weeks ago as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
The Church got the ball rolling around nine months ago when they contacted the NAACP.
Fast forward to now, local organizations like Baptist, Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare, the Shelby County Health Department and Cooper Hotels are also involved. Together they and the Archibalds help serve the new moms, babies, and families who need it most.
“We have a large family. We love children,” said Archibald. “There shouldn’t be differences in outcomes for women in a zip code, or women of a certain race or color or situation.”
The MyBaby4Me program has been live since November 2022, hoping to curb infant and mother mortality rates in the 38126 area and beyond.
“If you’re pregnant and you need help, we want to make sure that we are here to let them know how to take care of baby, what do you need to do to make sure your baby is in the car seat right,” said Vickie Terry, Exec. Director of the NAACP Memphis Branch.
The new program offers classes to help families navigate pregnancy and their new lives with the baby. It could be anything from educational classes, to home visits, food security, home safety, or anything else the families may need, and it comes at no cost.
“We’re going to have a meal when they walk in. We have a Kroger gift card. We have toys for the babies. If they want to bring their families in, they’ll be able to come in with the other children, their spouse, husband, significant other - bring them in so they can also attend the classes as well,” said Terry.
The class takes place at the NAACP Memphis Branch office at 588 Vance Ave. Each class is two hours long, on Tuesdays it’s 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and every third Saturday 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
The NAACP will also hold a Diaper and Wipe Drive at their office as part of their MLK Day of service. The event will last from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. on January 14th at the branch office.