Investing in Communities
Maternal health services nonprofit finds opportunities amid pandemic
For nearly 30 years, MOMS Orange County has provided in-home maternal child health care coordination and group health education classes to low-income pregnant women and their families in Orange County, California. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, MOMS found opportunities to expand its services into new areas, virtually.
“When things got serious in mid-March and we recognized that we couldn’t run operations as we had been, we quickly transitioned into a fully remote environment,” says Dave Lugo, MOMS CEO.
“This enabled us to see a more diverse population, meaning outside of Orange County. The geographic barriers have somewhat gone away now that we are doing things remotely,” he says. “We’ve helped new moms just north of the U.S. border, and a mom who was stranded in Colombia who could log in to our classes online and help prepare for the arrival of her baby.”
While visiting moms and babies in person in their homes is preferred because it provides insights into the social aspect of the mother and baby, MOMS can still be efficient and effective in a remote capacity, Lugo says.
“Many of the mothers we serve are isolated in terms of not having family nearby, living in unsafe neighborhoods and not having access to the health care system,” he says. “Their connection to the MOMS case worker became even more valuable when the crisis hit. A lot of these moms are struggling with nursing and other issues, and our case workers are still able to help them.”
MOMS of Orange County has been a Union Bank client since 2002. Since then, Davina Samuel, Branch Manager of the Tustin and Tustin Ranch branches and a member of the MOMS board of directors, has been their banker. The organization turned to the bank for a Paycheck Protection Program loan, working with Davina they received the help they needed.
“Davina was on top of it from the minute the PPP announcement was made,” Lugo says. “She has provided a lot of leadership for our organization and really gets involved on a hands-on level. Last year during the holidays, she came by with handmade blankets for the new moms, and earlier in the year, she helped us with an event for moms to donate frozen breast milk to help others.”
The PPP funding helped MOMS cover payroll expenses for its employees.
“My No. 1 goal when the crisis hit was to not have a single member of our team be forced out,” he says. “The PPP funds allowed us to live up to that commitment and carry on business as usual without creating apprehension about losing jobs. Once we received those funds, it really helped ease people’s minds and allowed us to function more effectively.”
The PPP funding further cements the organization’s satisfaction with Union Bank.
“As a finance person, I find myself evaluating banks,” Lugo says. “What I feel when I communicate with Union Bank is that old-school customer service experience. I don’t think a lot of banks offer that anymore.”
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Written by Erik Battenberg