There’s a certain musicality to Lyric Green’s wisdom.
Her words ring true. She’s hopeful. Upbeat. Tenacious. Fearless.
Handy traits in an uncertain world.
“Everybody goes through storms,” Green, 23, said. “And eventually, they’re going to see the rainbow.
“It’s hard to go through that storm alone. But just know, your kids could be the main reason you keep going.”
Her sons—Malik, 2, and Messiah, 3 months—have become the leading force behind her drive.
Two years ago, as a single mom in the suburbs of Grand Rapids, Michigan, uncertainty had taken hold. She found herself confronting homelessness, job loss and the weighty financial strains of childcare.
Yet, in parenthood, she found fresh reason for hope.
“I always took my son to the park because it gave me relief,” she said. “It made me forget about anything that I actually had going on or anything that was actually happening.”
In those quiet moments, she reconnected—with herself.
“The best thing I could do was continue to smile and try to make the best out of my day,” she said.
That outlook inspired her to look beyond the obstacles. To look toward people who could help.
It led her to Spectrum Health and, eventually, Spectrum Health Healthier Communities.
“I didn’t know when I was pregnant with my first child that they were this helpful and what they were about,” she said.
The teams at Healthier Communities work to improve health equity and health outcomes in neighborhoods and regions of West Michigan.
For expectant moms like Green, they provide a veritable trove of resources.
Her participation there spanned her entire first pregnancy.
“We were a group of first-time moms and we’d just learn everything there was to know about pregnancy,” Green said. “What to expect, if we felt comfortable with natural childbirth or an epidural.”
Team members would check Green’s blood pressure, monitor her weight and keep a close eye on her underlying health.
“It was really nice,” she said.
The experience left a mark.
When her second pregnancy came around this past year, Green quickly connected with the Spectrum Health Healthier Communities Strong Beginnings program.
Strong Beginnings has made tremendous inroads in improving birth outcomes for Black and Latinx women, men and their babies.
“They have been extremely helpful,” Green said. “Not just because they help find you resources, but they are good to me and they give me a lot of courage to push forth in being a single mother, too.”
Spectrum Health also provides a maternal infant health program, connecting expectant moms with important services and community resources.
Green’s second pregnancy came as the COVID-19 pandemic hit, adding a new layer of challenges.
“Maternity with my second child was a lot to handle,” she said. “(Strong Beginnings) helped out a lot.”
In line with much of America, Healthier Communities and its affiliated organizations trekked the COVID-19 landscape in due fashion: virtually.
Many Healthier Communities services went from in-person to online—live video, emails, texts.
Green found strength and comfort in virtual calls with community health workers and in text messages with newfound friends in the program.
“I was really sad when the pandemic happened because they couldn’t come over,” she said. “But them calling to check up on me was the best thing ever.”
When her second pregnancy prompted a few unexpected trips to the hospital, doctors ultimately chose to induce an early delivery.
“I had my son a couple days before my due date and I was able to send a picture of him to (Strong Beginnings),” Green said. “It was the sweetest thing ever for them to see how I had grown from renting a room out last year to being in my own place this year.”
Her interactions at Strong Beginnings gave her a chance to chat with other moms who faced similar situations. They talked pregnancy, breastfeeding and all things parenthood.
“It made me feel very welcomed,” Green said.
Her growth proved far more profound than she could have predicted.
During that second pregnancy, she found herself shedding the role of student in favor of a new hat: mentor to other young women who faced similar situations and similar barriers.
“Always keep your head up,” she would tell the others. “There’s always someone out there that goes through the same thing you go through.”
By way of the Strong Beginnings HUGS Breastfeeding Café, Green and other new and soon-to-be moms gleaned support from one another.
“It was very important to me, being a single parent and not having many mom friends,” Green said. “Just to find out we have similar things we’ve been through in life besides just being a mother, it was a big eye-opener to me and it made me feel really good.”
Perhaps most impactful, however, are the sage words Green imparts on others she now sees on a similar path.
“Some of the moms who are not in the program, I started telling them things that Spectrum Health was helping me with,” she said. “They face a lot homelessness, they don’t have anybody to talk to, nobody understands. I said, ‘If you go through Spectrum Health, they’ll get in contact with caseworkers and they’ll help you with a lot of things.’”
Green now has a permanent home for herself and her family. She has also enrolled in nursing school.
Her top advice for other moms: Never give up.
“I have so much to give and so much to offer,” she said. “And I’m just not going to stop.”