Imagine you’re a single mother. Your newborn baby Anna is taking her afternoon nap, so you decide it’s time for your first meal of the day. Your stomach reminds you it’s time for lunch, but your cabinets tell another story—the fridge is nearly empty, your shelves are bare. 

How are you going to make it through another week? 

Source: The New York Times

Going to the food bank with a newborn is hard enough outside of a pandemic. The closest one is a bus ride away (and even on a slow day there’s a line out the door). Now, with over 1.5 million New Yorkers relying on food banks, you could be stuck waiting in line for hours. Forced to go home empty handed when your baby starts to get fussy. 

Last March, new moms experiencing poverty were already struggling to provide for their families. When the crisis struck, hundreds of women—who were already financially stressed—were unable to buy diapers for their babies or put food on the table. Shelves were bare, prices soared. Some clients were sick and could not leave the house. And food pantries weren’t prepared for the increase in demand, either.  

That’s where the Friends community stepped in. We could’ve never imagined the impact we’d have together. 

Helping families survive the pandemic 

With pandemic closures came distressing job losses. Women who received Heart’s Desire scholarships for their degrees and started a job in the beginning of March were now left without an income. Friends of NYC NFP shifted resources to meet urgent needs. 

As NFP nurses scrambled to assess clients’ needs, the Friends community stepped up to support—ready to build a safety net for the families who needed it most. Femida Dharsee, RN and a former nurse supervisor for NYC’s Nurse-Family Partnership, said the pandemic brought so much uncertainty for the clients, but Friends stepped in when they needed it most:

“The Emergency Fund was the best thing that happened for our program during the pandemic. We’re so very grateful.”
— Femida Dharsee, Nurse Supervisor

“We weren’t equipped for what came,” she said, “but Friends of NYC NFP stepped in on time.”

Our generous community stepped up at such a critical time. Because of our supporters, over 400 families experiencing poverty were able to buy groceries and essentials for their families. Every dollar made a real impact on individual families across New York City. 

Kickstarting financial stability for NYC families 

As new and expectant moms, women in the NFP program are determined to sustain their family financially. Over 70 percent of NFP clients want to pursue higher education or certification programs, but they usually can’t afford the cost of tuition or books.

Nurses have a special relationship with the women in the NFP program, and they encourage their clients to apply for the Heart’s Desire Fund. “What Friends is helping do is targeting the right people who really need the help,” Femida says.  

Femida says Friends is playing a huge part in launching women’s careers through the Heart’s Desire Fund: “There have been so many women who have been empowered to do what they want to do.” 

Poverty starts to negatively impact brain development before a child is even born. Financial assistance empowers women in the NFP program to launch their careers and break the cycle of poverty for their children. Financial assistance also reduces stress and allows women to devote their emotional energy and attention to their children during the critical, earliest years.

Femida knows the impact of Friends is powerful, she says: “What we’re doing may not show; the difference we’re making on each individual. But just having clients graduate with that additional financial stability is powerful. That’s what makes us appreciate this fund so much. It has met a need that we were not otherwise able to fulfill.” 

“We are making a difference in New York City, be it a drop at a time. But guess what? A lot of drops will make a spoonful or a cupful eventually.” — Femida Dharsee, Nurse Supervisor

Transforming the community together 

Moms in the NFP program are creating a better future for their children—doing whatever it takes to provide for their families and become financially independent. With the support of NFP nurses and the Friends of NYC NFP community, moms are empowered to change the course of their children’s lives by taking just one step in the right direction. Like Femida says: “At the end of the day, we’re strengthening our community.” 


Friends works side by side with NYC’s Nurse-Family Partnership to empower new moms experiencing poverty to create a better future for their children. Find out how you can get involved today