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Lori Barry – Community Empowerment

Community Empowerment was established by Legislation during the 1998 session to create a partnership between communities and state government, emphasizing improving the well-being of families with young children. Community empowerment areas enabled local citizens to lead collaborative efforts involving education, health, and human services programs for children, families, and other citizens residing in the area.

As you can imagine, there was lots of brainstorming and planning as the foundation of the empowerment was started. I had the pleasure of being part of this and shaping our program into what it is today.

I was working as an RN at our local doctor’s office when I was approached by one of the physicians who encouraged me to learn more about this and stated, “You would be good at this.” My passion was working with parents with babies and young children and providing education and support to them. I remember this day as if it was yesterday when I was given this opportunity. I worked four days a week at the clinic, and I had one day available for this—to me, it was the best of both worlds! I pursued the journey of this newly developed home visiting for families.

It started with a few trainings and purchasing some books for resources to guide meaningful and educational home visits. Purchasing a baby scale provided baby weights on home visits, as new Moms liked to see how much their little one has gained from one home visit to the next. There weren’t any protocols or curricula to follow, and we used our knowledge and built on it. It was “Do a good job at what you choose to do.” The documentation was minimal in the beginning. As time passed, more trainings were offered, such as Health Families America, a family support and evidence-based home visiting program in the US. We explored many programs/curriculums and learned about Parents as Teachers. 

As we looked at the curriculum, it was fitting to what we were already doing, and it was evidence-based educational information. During this time, the state wanted data as the program was growing and being successful. The data showed that we were meeting our outcomes. With that comes much more documentation. As a nurse, documentation was vital. If it wasn’t documented, it didn’t happen! We progressed from paper documentation to computer program record keeping. In 2021, it was required to take a National Family Support Certification Exam to provide home visits. After 21-plus years of providing home visits, I became a certified family support professional.

Being one of the first home visitors, I have seen many changes in my 24 years of providing evidence-based and meaningful home visits. Also, I have many fond memories of the families I served. I will share a couple. One of the children would always call me Lori Barry, which I was OK being called by both first and last name, but when the Mom shared that her child thought my first name was Lori Barry and my last name was Barry, she would call me Lori Barry. This child is now a mom herself, and when she sees me, she still calls me “Lori Barry Barry.” Currently, I have been called “Grandma Lori”. Well, they aren’t wrong. I am a Grandma, and no matter what their parents tell them, I am still ”Grandma Lori.” When I see the families out in the community, and the children are excited to see me, it just warms my heart. I have a couple of families that I provided home visits to when they were a child, and now that they are parents, they said they wanted home visits for their children. 

June 30th, 2024, will bring new beginnings for me as I plan my retirement. It comes with mixed emotions, as I dearly love my job. You will find me in the community volunteering or in my sewing room making quilts. 

Fun Fact: I became a Certified Child Passenger Technician 2005 and an Instructor in 2009. I have educated and helped many families correctly install their children’s car seats. One tiny
error can make a big difference in the safety outcome of a crash. I will continue being a certified technician/instructor. 

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