Since her days as a preschool teacher in New York City, when she worried about the home lives of troubled 4-year-olds who were coming to school angry, artist Joan Easton had been looking for a way to make a difference in children’s lives. When she read an article in 2006 about a life-changing program called the Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP), in which nurses provide one-on-one counseling to young first-time mothers, she knew she’d found her cause: “I ran to my husband and said, ‘This is it! This is the program I want to be involved in.’”
Once she learned that the national program had a branch in New York—the Visiting Nurse Service of New York’s Nurse-Family Partnership—the connection was instant and deep. Since then, Joan has been one of the program’s staunchest supporters. She contributes financially, holds information sessions in her Manhattan apartment, has “shadowed” NFP nurses on visits, and regularly attends the program’s annual graduation ceremony for moms and their children.
She sees enormous power in the program’s person-to-person approach. “The humanity and compassion with which the nurses support and educate these young women and their families is wonderful and crucial,” says Joan. She is impressed by how the NFP helps graduates transform the future for themselves and their babies. The memory still resonates of two NFP clients who spoke at information sessions she hosted. “These are smart, articulate, and centered young women who started out drifting in life, suddenly finding they were pregnant and not knowing what to do,” Joan recalls. “By the time they graduated from the NFP, each not only had a healthy and happy child but was also back on track herself. They had returned to school or gotten a job, and had much higher aspirations for their families. This is real change, and it’s very gratifying to be a part of it.”