Breastfeeding moms need our support

Contributed by: Alissa Hughes, SPCC WIC Peer Counselor


My name is Alissa and I have worked as a peer counselor in SPCC’s WIC program going on 3 years now. I Iove this program, as we address the barriers to breastfeeding and offer support, education and advice to moms beyond the normal office hours. Thirteen years ago, my own WIC peer counselor was amazing and was genuinely the reason I never gave up. I have since nursed 3 children for a total of 8 years. I truly believe support is the foundation for a wonderful breastfeeding relationship. This month I’d like to touch on the stigma of breastfeeding in public.  

When I had my first child I was so nervous to nurse in public. He hated being covered and I was always looking for a dressing room or worse, a bathroom to nurse in. By my 2nd and 3rd child, I realized it’s really supposed to be all about YOU and your babies’ level of comfort, not other people. Did you know that in New York State, mothers are allowed to breastfeed their baby in any location, public or private, where the mother is otherwise authorized to be irrespective of whether or not the nipple of her breast is covered during or incidental to the breastfeeding? Knowing this information and sharing it can be helpful for mothers who feel unsure of their ability to nurse their baby in public. 

                        Recent polls reflect that 6 out of 10 breastfeeding mothers                          are afraid to nurse in public.

This makes me sad. Why is it like this? Nursing in public was not an issue in colonial America. Our foremothers were expected to maintain a household, including feeding the baby, and breastfeeding while shopping at the market or any public area. At that time, breastfeeding was the only way to feed a baby whether it was your biological mother or a wet-nurse. A wet nurse is a woman who breastfeeds and cares for another’s child. Wet nurses were often employed if the mother passed away or was unable or elected to not nurse. Breastfeeding in public was common because they lived in a society where breastfeeding was the only nutritional option for a child. 

Over time, society’s outlook on breastfeeding began to change as the bottle and nipple were invented, and as commercially-created infant formulas became more accepted in the early 20th century. During World War II, many women were needed to fill jobs left by men going to war and with no laws concerning a woman’s ability to express milk at work, nursing was no longer an option. Formula manufacturers also formed relationships with doctors, promoting formula use as a safe and accepted alternative way to feed a baby. With so many societal shifts and changes, it’s not surprising that breastfeeding rates started to decline quickly after World War II, resulting in far less women nursing both in private and in public.  

                                    90% of babies were breastfed in the 20th century,                                       compared to just 42% since the year 2000.  

Unfortunately, the many benefits of breastfeeding are often forgotten, and education and support is not always readily available to pregnant and new moms, which I believe is the key to successful breastfeeding. At SPCC WIC, our peer counselors strive to always be available to help support and educate. 

So how can we all help?

  • Remember that every mom needs the space and freedom to do what is best for her in her situation.
  • If you see a nursing mom, try and offer a smile or a thumbs up. Don’t stare, but remember that a smile showing support can greatly help her self-esteem. 

      “Breastfeeding is a gift that lasts a lifetime.”


Healthy Eating – It’s a Journey!

By: Victoria Cretelle, Nutritionist for SPCC’s WIC Program (Women, Infants & Children)

head shotWith spring right around the corner it’s time to celebrate National Nutrition Month! Back in 1973, National Nutrition “Month” was celebrated for a week. Now it is a month-long campaign; 31 days focusing on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits. As a WIC Nutritionist, I believe we are on the right track in helping to educate parents and children about the importance of food for health and wellness.

This year’s theme is “Go Further with Food”. By making small changes to the way we think about eating, we can help reduce food waste. Learning how to manage food resources at home will help us all “Go Further with Food”, while saving both nutrients and money. At WIC we counsel on this daily with all of our participants. When it comes to food and nutrition, everyone has an opinion. Did you ever hear someone say, “It is SO expensive to eat healthy!”? This really is a fallacy, and we can ALL go further with food!

In celebration of National Nutrition Month we are highlighting for families 30 Ways in 30 Days to Stretch Your Food Budget. Visit the SPCCWIC Facebook page to access 30 helpful tips. I think you will be surprised how easy stretching your food budget can be! The food you choose can make a real difference, and preparing foods to go further at home can have a positive impact, not only for you, but also for our environment. At WIC we LOVE helping families adopt healthier eating styles, while also reducing food waste and overall cost. For example, did you know that using coupons could actually be more expensive and lead to greater food waste? Only use coupons for items that are on your grocery list! This will help you to avoid buying extra, sometimes unhealthy food, which will save you money and cut down on waste.

SPCC’s WIC program is here to help guide and support new parents in so many ways. When a woman becomes pregnant, her journey and relationship with food changes. So many new things to worry about, and now she also needs to think about eating healthier for her growing baby. A mother’s journey with food continues through her growing family’s life. We offer moms tips to eating healthier during pregnancy, breastfeeding education and support, age appropriate portion sizes, tips on using leftovers, new recipes, and so much more. We hope to inspire and educate our families so that each choice they make is informed and not based on myths or fads. By the time families graduate from our WIC program, many have adopted healthy eating habits that will last a lifetime.

Healthy eating is a journey. It takes small changes over a long period of time, and is typically easier to do alongside someone else. Consider engaging a friend, a family member or a co-worker to make small changes together. Try new foods and recipes. Make changes that are somewhat comfortable, yet also daring and fun! This journey doesn’t need to be a long and hard one, but with the right attitude it can be exciting and rewarding! Let’s work together to make this our healthiest and most delicious National Nutrition Month yet! Bon Voyage!

The Intersectionalities of Courage

Contributed by: Jilian Quigley, BS – Health Educator & Family Coordinator for SPCC’s TeenAge Parent Support Services (TAPSS) Program


When I walk into a classroom of young brown people, I notice that they notice, that I too, am brown. We sit in class discussing life, as they tell me stories of the trauma they have endured within the 16 years they’ve been on this earth. I suddenly become this big sister, mother figure that tells it like it is, with a dash of sugar on top. They look at me, a stranger yes, but someone who they knew could relate to them. Maybe it’s the ringlets of curls surrounding my large smiling round face. Maybe it was my accent that told them I’m from somewhere else but still young and ‘hip’. I’m old enough to know a thing or two yet young enough for them to understand I was in their shoes just a few years ago.

For two hours we break down why the intersectionalities of who we are, change the way we choose to heal after the trauma we have survived. I’m not just a teacher in my classroom – I am a survivor of trauma, a daughter, a sister. And my religion and my ethnicity are important and should be seen. Being a brown Puerto Rican Catholic woman means something when I’m sick; I drink ginger ale and talk to God before I go to the doctors. It means that when I hurt on the inside I talk to a higher being before I speak up and ask for help. It means ‘what happens in the house stays in the house’. Sometimes it means we wait for a miracle before we tell a soul about our pain.




1. the interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender as they apply to a given individual or group, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage.

“through an awareness of intersectionality, we can better acknowledge and ground the differences among us”

The intersectionalities of a person are important to take into consideration when discussing any topic with youth. Last month (February) happened to be Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. This is a topic we know 3 out of 4 parents have never talked to their teens about. Some parents don’t know this is an issue; that 1 out of every 5 tweens (10-12 years old) knows someone in a situation involving domestic violence (DV) or intimate partner violence (IPV). When we start to discuss these situations with youth, they start to examine their own family dynamics and how their families handle situations. They ask the “Are we normal?” questions, they see the faults in where someone may have dropped the ball, and they examine the way they handle their own feelings.

I teach Safe Dates, a 10-session curriculum that discusses the components of teen dating violence. I teach this curriculum in the homeless shelters for youth and the correctional facilities for young boys and girls ages 11-17. It is important that I take into account the daily traumas of their present lives, so that I can understand why they may have hit someone, hurt someone, hurt themselves, or allowed themselves to be hurt.

How we love, how we break, how we heal and bounce back, all depend on the journey that came before. Sometimes the journey includes things like generational trauma or unspoken secrets within. Sometimes the journey hits us hard when we’re young. Who we are and where we come from are components of how we handle life when it comes our way. ‘Life coming our way’ also includes talking to our kids about hard topics such as domestic violence. The reason it is hard, is because it takes guts as an adult to say, “Hey, I’m not perfect in how I deal with my feelings but this is what love and respect should look and feel like.”

I know that as an adult, to have any conversations with your youth, takes guts to examine who you are, what are your values and why this conversation is important. Having the conversation with your youth may even trigger some feelings for you. Examine that for yourself and be honest about what’s holding you back from being open and vulnerable with your youth. Keep in mind that where you come from is an important aspect of you, but it doesn’t define you and where you stand. Giving youth some psychological air to open up and speak can transform relationships. Keeping intersectionalities in mind while teaching, healing, listening to others is the first step in creating stronger bonds with people from different walks of life.

If you are an adult reading this, you may feel as if I didn’t give you enough instruction on how to have courage to ask the hard questions and talk with a youth. So, here are some questions you might begin with.

  • “What does being respected by others look like to you?” (I make a list of how they feel)
  • “Can respect look different to different people?” (ask for examples)
  • “How do you give respect to others?” (name different people they respect, ask how they respect each person differently).

Teen Dating Violence starts with crossing small boundaries, from things like isolation (silent treatment) to feelings of jealousy and resentment . When we connect the emotion (the list of how they feel), to how we make others feel when we respect them and when we don’t, it helps them make the connection in the moment of adversity. I tell my youth, when they feel like they are being disrespected, “How do you protect yourself from this person emotionally without harming them in the process?” Talking about respect allows for conversation to hover around being disrespected. Talking about (dis)respect allows for youth to have some autonomy over their own feelings and boundaries.

Telling youth that their opinion on how they should be treated is important. It is the first step towards building their confidence. Confidence building in youth will have a ripple effect on all of the relationships they create for the rest of their lives. Their intersectionalities may be a part of which direction their lives go in and how they choose to make decisions. Who I am, where I come from, the way I was taught how to pray, all reflects on how I heal from any trauma I have endured. Knowing that, has helped me practice what I teach.

For more information regarding Teen Domestic Violence please feel free to visit:


Providing Hope


The following reflection was provided by two of our amazing SPCC staff who dedicate their time and efforts to partnering with the young people in our community, in ways that create positive change on so many levels. The key ingredient: Hope. Thank you to Jillian Quigley, BS – Health Educator and Chareddea Williams, BSW – Family Coordinator in our program for teen parents (TAPSS).

Day in and out we go into a variety of neighborhoods and homes, slowly becoming a part of the community and in time, becoming a small piece of what happens inside of those homes. Many social workers sign up for this work wanting to help people through problem solving and navigating systems.  As we work with our clients, setting goals and creating relationships, we assess for needs and look for ways to meet those needs.

In the TAPSS program, we have watched many young moms come out of their homes wearing the same item of clothing that they were wearing when we saw them just a week ago – often a piece of clothing that doesn’t even fit well. An old sweater in the middle of winter with holes worn through. A pair of slippers worn as shoes, because the first of the month hasn’t arrived yet and winter came way too soon this year. When we ourselves muster up the courage to ask “Do you need clothes?”, we often watch as the girls are overcome with embarrassment, possibly making up a story to say they have other clothing. But sometimes we actually get a “Yes. I need clothing.”

In our community we have some great clothing resources that service people of all ages, but the need we were seeing in our program was unique. Teen girls, young moms – trying to discover their identity while caring for and developing alongside their own children; trying to attend school and prepare for first job interviews with nothing appropriate to wear. It was important to our team to find clothing that was both age appropriate and would also look appealing to the young moms we serve. So we began to reach out and plan for what we hoped would be a special day for these girls – a day where they could find fashionable clothing and personal items that would fit their bodies. We began close to home by asking for donations of needed items from friends, family members, and other service providers in the community, as well as put the word out via the YSQC (Youth Services Quality Council) Network as to what we were looking to do for these young moms. Donations of clothes and other personal items began to come in, filling our offices, cars and even spaces in our own homes due to a lack of storage space at the office. One of the key items most needed by the young moms in our program were bras, not just for the nursing moms but for all of the developing and growing young women who have never had the luxury of being fitted for a bra before. We were lucky enough to team up with the local Rochester Chapter of Support the Girls – a national organization that agreed to attend our event and provide free bra fittings, as well as brand new bras for the young mothers. With 60 to 75 young moms active in our program, we were unsure how many would come to such an event. As the day approached we were worried there would not be enough personal items and clothing in enough sizes.

Clothing event 3

Getting ready!

On November 15, we arrived early in the cold morning to North Street Recreation Center provided free of charge by the City of Rochester. Nine cars pulled into the parking lot, along with our team of Family Coordinators who worked to unpack the cars full of clothing, filled with hope for a really good day. We organized clothing by size, and as we began to unpack we realized we had collected a ton of clothing in every single size, possibly something for every single girl and her children. The overall look and feel of the room was amazing and it felt like we were truly doing something meaningful as it all came together. As the day flew by, we welcomed many young moms, explained the setup of the room, and helped them to find clothing for themselves and their babies. The girls shopped ‘til they dropped, and many made new acquaintances as they offered fashion advice to one another. Every girl left this special place with 2-4 large sized bags of clothing, including shoes, pants, coats, gloves, purses, dresses etc., for themselves, their babies, and other family members. The best part (and one of the hardest resources to come by) were bras that fit! Our girls were able to be fitted by Lucie – the representative from Support the Girls and take home quite a few bras each.

Teen parents, just like any parent, strive to put their child’s needs before their own, and often times have to access a tremendous amount of strength in order to do so. Their struggles are beyond their years, with increased obstacles and challenges as a result. A lot of the work that our program does is centered around helping to meet basic needs, while combating poverty, attempting to help end cycles of dependence and thoughtfully providing a young family with fresh hope of a brighter future. While the young moms left that day with tangible items, they also left us as professionals with feelings of gratitude that we had taken the time to do something creative that met a need. If retail therapy is your thing, then you know what it feels like to get something new that makes you feel fantastic. That was the look on their faces as they left that day. The look of magnificence as they glided out of North Street Rec, knowing someone cared enough to do this for them and that they could go home and put on something new and feel amazing.

We wish to extend a special thank you to: Lucie at Support the Girls, Youth Services Quality Council, the City of Rochester for allowing us to use North Street Recreation Center, and to everyone who took the time to donate clothing and other items! It was truly an amazing day.


A Different Kind of Gift…


On the heels of a season of giving thanks for so many good things in life, I feel challenged to hit the pause button and reflect on the children and families who are struggling right now. Our Annual Appeal letter this year highlighted some of the practical needs we often see with the families we serve – all requiring funds to be met. I believe that we can be the answer to meeting some of these needs.

  • Locks needing to be changed for a family that is no longer safe in their home.
  • A security deposit for a family of six to move from their apartment that is infested with cockroaches.
  • Coloring books and crayons for small children in the back of a funeral home struggling with the sudden loss of their murdered mother.
  • A bus pass for a victim of crime to attend a court hearing.

Might this be the year to consider giving a different kind of gift this holiday season? Perhaps a donation in the name of a loved one or friend – someone who seems to haveIn Memory everything they need but would be honored to have such a tangible need met in their name? Or perhaps you’ve lost a loved one this year who cared very much for others. Consider making a special donation in their name. For any gift of this nature, we will gladly provide a note indicating your donation and the name of the person whom you are honoring.

Thank you for helping us fulfill our mission to heal the past and nurture the future. We wish you all a beautiful holiday season.


Lisa Butt, SPCC CEO & Executive Director

To give a special gift, please visit us here:

Another Bright Light



TAPSS participant Naomi on her 1st day at MINO

Allow us to introduce you to another bright light here in Rochester:  A ministry called MINO – Mothers in Need of Others, that has proven invaluable to many of the young families we provide services to. Below you will find a message from MINO’s founder, Maria Wehrle, describing what MINO provides, as well as sharing some ongoing needs they have that YOU may be able to help meet!  We also want to mention and highlight how appreciative we are to this ministry for not only partnering to provide much needed household and baby items for families, but also for providing short-term work experiences for young moms in our teen parent program (TAPSS). Below is a picture of a young woman in our program who experienced her first day “on the job” at MINO this week, and was described by Maria as “a lovely person and a very hard worker”. Thank you Maria and staff for providing these much needed opportunities for young moms in Rochester!

Hello SPCC Friends!

For those of you whom I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting, permit me to introduce myself! My name is Maria Wehrle and I manage a thrift store out of Wedge Market of The Pillar Church at 46 Mount Hope Avenue where I also operate two outreach programs. The first of these is Mothers In Need of Others (MINO-pronounced: “minnow”). MINO was started in 2004 to meet the needs of single parents in the Rochester area. Through MINO we work with case managers and church outreach workers to assist them in providing FREE maternity, baby items, feminine and personal hygiene products, and household items to moms and their families. For a family to receive needed items, their case worker or church contact just needs to email or call me at (585) 348-8596. If we have the item(s) needed, we can schedule an appointment for the caseworker or church contact to pick it up for the family! It’s really that simple! No extra paperwork and a family’s privacy is completely protected!

The second ministry is Furnished 4 Life. For families who have some income to purchase items, we operate the Furnished 4 Life Thrift Store. The store is open to the public, offering an array of new and “like new” items at drastically reduced prices. Our store hours are Mondays & Wednesdays from 10am-5pm, Fridays from 10am-2pm, and Saturdays from 1pm-5pm. We do have some furniture pieces and small appliances for sale in the store currently and are looking to expand our inventory in the near future, as we secure  transportation and individuals to help us transport the items. Proceeds from our thrift store support job development efforts in the city!

We absolutely love the family atmosphere and close relationships we have developed with many of our client representatives. We would like to continue helping meet the needs in the community, but we need your help! We are in great need of the following items:

  • Baby and toddler clothes (Boys & Girls; size preemie-5T)
  • Baby Gear (cribs, car seats, strollers, high chairs, baby seats, etc.) – All are inspected, cleaned and recall checked!
  • Household items (dishes, drinking glasses, silverware, cooking utensils, pots & pans
  • Linens (sheets, blankets, towels, rugs, curtains)
  • Small appliances (microwaves, crock pots, coffee pots, electric skillets, fans, heaters, etc.)

Please help us spread the word to your friends, family, and neighbors who might be moving, downsizing, or looking to donate items after their garage sales!

Looking forward to meeting you!

Maria Wehrle

Furnished 4 Life/MINO ministries
(585) 348-8596

Romaine Calm. Farmers Market Season is Here!

Kendra Walling, SPCC WIC Nutritionist                                                                                    As an SPCC WIC Nutritionist, Kendra is able to share her expertise and love for healthy     eating with families throughout Ontario, Wayne, Yates, Seneca and Eastern Monroe           counties.


It’s Farmers Market season…Yeah Yeah Yeah!!! Why am I excited for the farmers markets this year? There are so many reasons why I cannot wait to go to the local markets! Let me tell you a few…

A couple years ago I worked with a program that allowed me to frequent farmers markets and promote nutrition education. It really doesn’t get better than having part of your work day be outside in the warm summer sun sharing information that you love with people in your community (sometimes even dressed up as a carrot or a tomato, ha!).

Traveling around to the different markets allowed me to see that each market is run a little bit differently and each location has unique community characteristics that all contribute to the ultimate farmers market experiences. Each market has different vendors too, the products ranged from fruits and vegetables (of course!) to local honey, handmade products, and some direct sale businesses depending on what the market allowed. Each year the vendors change and the markets grow with more options and events that are fun for a variety of ages!

Another reason why I love farmers markets is because they allow for very different experiences than shopping at grocery stores. I love being outside, especially on the bright days filled with warmth and sunshine. Seeing the vivid colored produce available and the smiling faces of everyone enjoying the weather that we don’t always have in Upstate NY makes a trip to the market more rewarding! Even the rainy days have their own sense of enjoyment with the comradery of braving the weather and the laughter that comes with all of the puddles to jump in!  The effort that goes into putting a market together for the season and even setting up for just the afternoon shows the pride and commitment that the market managers and vendors have for the products and experience that they are providing to communities.  Usually the prices are so much better too, and you can’t beat that bonus!

I could just go to the grocery store and pick up some berries as early summer comes along, but there is something different about the taste and satisfaction that comes with berries that aren’t under florescent lights in plastic containers. Farmers markets bring a sense of closeness to the earth and community, a sense of peace that comes from a leisure stroll through a park in the heat of summertime. And that is something that can’t be replicated inside of a bustling supermarket.

This year I am especially excited for farmers market season to start because my husband and I have adopted a new way of eating. We have adopted a whole foods plant-based diet and it has definitely changed our lives. I am learning to cook new recipes and we have more energy than we ever had before (another reason to spend more time outside!).  Our dietary changes have focused on whole foods and plant-based nutrition so the farmers markets will be able to supply the majority of what we purchase to eat on a regular basis and we will be able to find unique options that aren’t always available at the grocery store. I can’t wait to see what we will be able to find at the farmers markets this year!

As farmers market season begins this year, it will be different for my family though because I am not able to go to the farmers markets as often as a part of my day at work. Instead it will become a planned decision to make sure that we are able to attend the market on the day of the week and time that they are open. A lot of markets have machines that let you use SNAP (Food Stamps), there are a variety of markets and vendors that accept WIC/Farmers Market Nutrition Program checks, and sometimes they even accept debit so having cash on hand isn’t as crucial.  The Cornell Cooperative Extension offices in many counties have schedules of the farmers markets in the area and sometimes they even have info on what forms of payment are accepted.  Social media is another great way to stay connected on the events and schedules of your favorite markets. I follow a couple local farmers markets through Facebook so I’ll be ready the week that they open and I cannot wait!

I hope that you will find the same joy in perusing the markets on a relaxing sunny day while hunting for the next mouthwatering treat that has come into season in our great state of NY. Let the Farmers Market Season begin!


The Journey


The Journey

Shared with us by: Clarice Lazary, LMSW (Outreach Coordinator for SPCC’s WIC Program)

March is National Nutrition Month. So, naturally, a WIC Nutritionist would be the logical choice to write the blog.  A Nutritionist knows how to “eat right” and “be healthy”.   We have all heard it before…eat less, exercise more, and make it a life style.  But, eating and “being healthy” is harder than it sounds.  In today’s complicated, busy, hectic world it can be so overwhelming that we tend to decide “I just can’t do it”, “I don’t have time”.  But, I have a feeling, like so many other challenges we face, “being healthy” is a multi-layered, life long process.  So, at the risk of offending our professional, well educated, very experienced SPCC WIC staff, I am going to share with you my views.

Living healthy is a commitment, an activity, a life style, a group activity, a personal goal.  It can be about eating right, cooking right, exercising, just moving, clearing our minds, taking a slow and mindful breath, breaking bread together, eating our guilty pleasures and ENJOYING them occasionally but more often than not, getting back on the “good food” wagon, again.

All my life have I struggled with weight…but WAIT – that is a WRONG statement!! I used to be skinny!  So skinny, that my family called me “beansy” (I think that means tiny).  And then, puberty and all the emotions and doubts that come with it, enraged itself upon me.  I had an average body in adolescence but thought I was fat (when I look back at my high school year book I think “What was I thinking?!”).  But my family controlled my food.  Where I ate, what I ate, what kind of foods I ate, how much I ate, what I was “allowed to eat “ (no soda except on Sunday with Pasta, only homemade cookies and only 2 a day, and no candy).  All good choices, mind you, but not the environment that could be sustained for a life time.

Then I went away to college and started eating on my own.  Oh boy…I was NOT prepared!  So much “bad” food to indulge in!  I remember a lot of pizza, fried foods, cookies and candy!  I attempted to eat healthy and ate a lot of salad, but with tons of dressing which tends to defeat the purpose. Ever since then, I have been on a twisted and turning journey of weight gain and loss.  Each time for a different reason.  But, each time I learn a new coping mechanism or new trick that I like or a way to avoid an old habit, or introduce a new one.

Being healthy, for ME, is a journey.

There are many people I know, where “healthy” is a life style.  Call it genetics, self-control, smartness, but I have had to take the long road.  I am still on the trip.  I probably won’t get there for another many years to come.  I have hated a lot of it, but I really love some parts a VERY lot!

I know that I am not alone in this journey.  Our lives are filled with challenges and choices that we all make.  Some come easier to others.  I have chosen to nourish my life with loving friends and co-workers and a giving husband and healthy happy children.  I have learned to accept what comes my way.  The good and the bad.  I have learned to enjoy “good” foods and figured out ways to share them with others and break the cycle of “over eating” at holidays and at social gatherings.  I appreciate that moving and exercising with people that you like, makes the torture of working out a better thing.

But back to this complicated hectic world and National Nutrition month. We will feel better if we nourish ourselves, nutritionally, physically and spiritually.  We have to prioritize health over the other chaos in our lives.  Baby steps.  I am at the toddler stage in my life, and I only have about another 30 years left!  I better start running soon!