ATLANTA – Martha Day was moved to action when she realized huge numbers of impoverished mothers-to-be in the U.S. are going without prenatal vitamins.
“For women who are struggling to put food on the table, buying vitamins just isn’t always an option,” said Day, co-founder of The Vitamin Bridge, a nonprofit organization that’s supplying prenatal supplements to 28 organizations that minister to expectant mothers.
The goal of the organization is to bridge the gap between the time when women find out they’re pregnant and when they can get signed up for Medicaid benefits to cover the cost of their health care.
Day well remembers complaining to her husband, Tom, about how disturbed she was that so many women at a Texas pregnancy clinic where she volunteered were having to do without prenatal vitamins. His straightforward advice, “Well, let’s do something about it,” led to the creation of their nonprofit organization.
Health experts have long stressed the importance of prenatal supplements, especially folic acid and iron, to prevent birth defects and to ensure healthy, full-term deliveries.
“In the process of meeting with expectant moms, the question would come up, ‘Are you taking prenatal vitamins,’ and the answer was usually, ‘No,’” Day said. “Recognizing how important it is to start a pregnancy with good nutrition and recognizing what a difference that can make in reducing pre-term births and birth defects, we started trying to get vitamins to the women who needed them.”
They were involved in a vitamin drive through their Sunday school class at Prestonwood Baptist Church, helping to collect 100 bottles of the prenatal supplements for a local pregnancy center.
“They were gone in a week,” Day recalled. “That’s when we realized the magnitude of the task we were facing. We asked ourselves, ‘What if we could create a steady stream of vitamins so that anyone who needed them could have them?’”
So, they formed the nonprofit organization and began providing free vitamins to additional women’s clinics across Texas as well as in Oklahoma and Georgia. To date, they have delivered more than 27,000 bottles of prenatal vitamins free of charge to women who can’t afford them.
Georgia Baptist Mission Board Executive Director W. Thomas Hammond Jr. said The Vitamin Bridge will become even more important in helping expectant mothers if Roe v. Wade is struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court next month. Such a ruling from the Supreme Court would mean, he said, more pregnancies going to full term and more babies being born.
“Our churches will have to fill the gap for the mothers-to-be and supporting The Vitamin Bridge is one very important way they can do that,” Hammond said. “We’re for the women. We’re for the babies. We’re for healthy deliveries. This is a beautiful picture of the church stepping forward to save lives and to show that we love and value people.”
For safety reasons and for uniformity, people who want to support the work of The Vitamin Bridge are encouraged to give financially, not by going out and buying vitamins to send to the organization.
Day said The Vitamin Bridge has agreements with a major pharmacy retailer and a vitamin manufacturer that allows them to purchase large quantities at a steep discount.
“We’re looking to replicate in Georgia what we’re doing in Texas,” she said earlier this week. “So many pregnancy centers that we’re donating to are struggling for funding for every part of their program, and we find that prenatal vitamins are something they’d like to do but just don’t have the funding for. So, to be able to supply them with vitamins is a real blessing.
The Vitamin Bridge started out in a utility room in the Days’ home in Texas. The first large donation of vitamins from CVS Health convinced them they needed more space. They moved their headquarters to a separate location that provided ample room for storage. A team of volunteer drivers pick up vitamins there for delivery to the pregnancy centers.
The Vitamin Bridge is one of a variety of organizations that support pregnancy centers. Others provide diapers or baby formula or maternity clothing or other necessities.
“Our goal is to do one thing well,” Tom Day said. “If we do our job well, then we’re covering the need for vitamins for thousands of women.”
Martha Day said that she and her husband, both now retired, are doing a crucial work on behalf of mothers and their babies.
“Healthy women of means wouldn’t dare go a day without prenatal vitamins, yet these moms who are struggling for food were going without,” Martha Day said. “It just didn’t make sense to me.
The Days delivered their first vitamins in September 2019.
“Since then, the need has just grown so much more apparent,” Martha Day said. “So many women need this help. “The Lord is in charge here. We’re just on this journey with Him. One of my prayers has been that we wouldn’t run ahead or lag behind, but we’d walk with Him on this journey and let him set the pace.”
Sometimes, the Days said, the pace is difficult, but they’ve never regretted starting the outreach to expectant mothers.
“My encouragement and advice to others would be, if you see a need, try to do something about it,” Martha Day said. “Ask yourself the question, ‘what can I do?’ Explore it. Don’t ignore it. Do something about it.”
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