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First-time moms get free nurse for pregnancy, child’s early years

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WEST SIDE — Any parent can understand that having your first child is quite the learning process, so a program offered through Goodwill Industries is giving some mothers an extra boost.

The Nurse-Family Partnership is offered free of charge by Goodwill Industries to women who qualify in Marion County.

On any given week inside 19-year-old Lupe Carrera Aquino’s home, you’ll find her and her son Joseph with a special visitor.

That visitor is nurse Katherine Harkov. She was assigned to Lupe when she was about three months pregnant with Joseph and will stay with her until he’s two years old.

“(We discuss) nutrition and gaining the right amount of weight, danger signs, things to look out for during pregnancy,” Harkov said.

Harkov also helps with Joseph’s growth and development, along with answering any question Lupe may have.

“(She’s) like my second mom, teaching me things,” Aquino said.

The program is open to first-time mothers who are less than seven months pregnant and qualify under income restrictions.

Half of the women in the program are under 19 years old, like Aquino.

“Since I’ve known her she’s gotten married and had a baby and moved and graduated high school,” Harkov said.

All along, the two have been getting closer, too. Joseph is now 10 months old and Harkov visits every week or two.

Harkov has a unique perspective as well. She is eight months pregnant with her first baby, giving her a lot to talk about with her new mothers.

“Several of them have asked if I can bring the baby with me to visit. They want to meet the baby,” Harkov said.

The program has room for more than 150 new moms right now. If you’d like to see if you qualify, go to Goodwill Industries’ website here.