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From counseling to clothing, suburban center helps new moms get through tough times

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It’s critical at a time when mental health funding is scarce.  Yet mood, anxiety and depressive disorders are abundant. For a little-known organization operating in the northwest suburbs – it’s their mission to make sure families get the help they need.

It was about a year ago when Delia Galicia first came to the non-profit  Preservation of Human Dignity or PHD. The young mother was referred by her doctor after opening up about the anxiety and depression she was experiencing – both fueled by her struggles to provide for her toddler twins and new baby.

She’s not unlike the hundreds served by the maternal health counseling center that’s been in existence for 45 years.

“Anxiety and depression go hand in hand,” said executive director Diane Christell. “And if you are a single mom, or even in a family, as a mom trying to pay for things for your infants and children, it’s very anxiety producing and it can cycle then and bring their moods down to more sadness.”

“My counselor listens to me gives me ideas, stuff to do when it hits that point when I start to get nervous. Now I’m able to be with my kids,” Delia said.

And she can better provide for them thanks to the fully stocked baby closet, which is open to clients for monthly visits.

“I’ve saved so much this summer because I basically haven’t bought my kids any summer clothes,” she said. “They provide it for me here every month.”

Volunteers do the heavy lifting. They come to sort and stack the thousands of donated items. Clothing is neatly organized by size.  Warm coats, baby food, wipes and diapers are stocked by the dozens.

“The client we work with here about 80 percent are at the federal poverty level status and we don’t take Medicaid and we don’t take insurance,” Diane said.

Instead, the organization relies on private donors. And they ask the families they serve to pay a small fee; $10 dollars or less for a counseling session, support group or parenting class.  But  Diane says, only if they are able.

“If they cannot pay, we don’t charge them,” she said.  “And we have no geographic boundaries so we welcome anyone who comes thru our doors.”

Some clients may choose a different path, and PHD is there to offer support.

“We have no political agenda or religious affiliation,” she said. “Whenever anyone comes through our door, we walk with them. We meet the client where they are at.  We don’t judge.  We guide and listen.”

The organization runs with the help of 150 volunteers, serving mostly mothers but fathers, grandparents or any caregiver of children 3-years-old or younger are welcome.

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