Like so many other parents, Chastin’s journey with The North Grove began with the prenatal program, which she attended for the first time with her mother. At the time, Chastin was a young mom and she says she needed all the help she could get.
"It absolutely helped shape who I am as a parent and a person - it made all the difference," she says. "It gave me the confidence, the skills, the community and the support."
Chastin participated in the prenatal program four times and says each time she grows as a parent and more importantly she connects with other women going through the same thing as her.
Chastin and her family at The North Grove
"Having a baby is hard for anybody, but it makes it easier when you know that you're not going through it alone," she says. "Everyone always feels alone until they meet other people that are going through it too."
This was the reason the program founder, Caralee McDaniel, started the prenatal program 25 years ago.
Caralee started attending family programs after she moved to Dartmouth North from Cape Breton. When she got pregnant with her second daughter, she realized she didn’t have her family and friends to lean on. But she found her support and community at The North Grove.
"Being pregnant is one of the most vulnerable times in a person's life, but being pregnant while struggling with issues like poverty, a precarious relationship or a lack of consistent support can be terrifying," says Caralee.
The North Grove's prenatal program is meant for parents who might not have the support that other folks have – they might not have a partner or family nearby or the financial resources they need. What makes The North Grove’s prenatal program unique is that it’s been built and shaped by community members and their needs, with a focus on mental health and relationship-building.
After 25 years, the program has helped more than 500 women connect with resources and their community, including Caralee's daughter who recently went through the program.
Caralee with her daughter and granddaughter.
When expectant parents and their support people join the prenatal program, they are often starting what becomes a long-lasting relationship with both The North Grove and its community. Both Chastin and Caralee are still in touch with several of the women they met in the prenatal program, many of whom have become like family.
Caralee says she's seen many programs and supportive services come and go in Dartmouth North, and believes part of what makes The North Grove so impactful is that it's remained a constant.
"The North Grove has what I call 'staying power'. We've been here for almost 30 years, and people in the community have grown to know us and trust us," says Caralee.
Can you help The North Grove continue serving this community? Join our amazing community of monthly donors today!
Consistent, predictable support makes it possible to offer programs, services and space for people to learn and connect through family support, food and friendship. This month, Canada Helps is sweetening the deal by offering The North Grove $20 for each new scheduled monthly donation (minimum $20 per month) from now until March 31st.