Velma Walker

Helping mothers and their babies

May 17, 2023

When Osiris Alvarez’s baby girl Yasmin was born in December 2020, she was overjoyed, but also nervous about caring for a newborn during a pandemic.

Osiris already had two children, but in their early years, they were surrounded by people, while Yasmin was born into a time of social distancing. Osiris’ doula provided support for the first three months of Yasmin’s life, and when Osiris explained her worries, her doula recommended the Arts of Living Institute at Catholic Charities.

Guadalupe Fuentes of Catholic Charities plays with Yasmin during a development session at the Arts of Living Institute. Photo provided.“I was looking for something to help with the first couple of months for Yasmin, since this was a new experience,” Osiris said. “I wanted to make sure I was on the right path [for] her development.”

Osiris’ concern for Yasmin’s early development is well founded. According to Zero to Three, a national early childhood research and policy institute, babies are born curious about the world and their brains grow exponentially between birth and age 3 as they develop language, motor skills and early literacy.

The foundation for lifelong learning is built during these critical years. Unfortunately, not enough babies get high-quality early learning because families and educators lack access to the services and tools they need.

In Yasmin’s case, being born during the pandemic meant that many of the critical services that Osiris might have used were unavailable.

But the Arts of Living Institute continued to provide support services to families throughout the pandemic and into the “new normal.”

The Arts of Living Institute provides free home visits, groups and supportive services. Families are visited in their homes by a parent coach to support parents as their child’s first teacher.

At first, Osiris and Yasmin did virtual learning sessions and received packages with special activities to help with Yasmin’s development. In 2022, their home visitor, Guadalupe Fuentes, began in-person visits every two weeks. Having that support during Yasmin’s early years has improved her development during a difficult time.

“We found that Yasmin may have late speech development, so Guadalupe always brings different things for her to do and talks with her. And we’re seeing that Yasmin is actually improving,” said Osiris.

As a mother, Osiris was happy with the support she received during an uncertain time and encourages other parents to reach out to Catholic Charities.

“It’s a community … and a really good program to help you and guide the first few years of your child’s life,” she said.

Bring joy and hope to mothers in need this month and all year long. Make a gift at


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