So many of our clients feel that because they’re homeless, they don’t deserve good things.”
Just one morning in Michelle Morgan-Jackson’s life might include making sure one child has clothing and socks, another is fed, and another learns life-changing and life-enhancing skills, all while putting their mom’s mind at ease and working on grants so The Floating Hospital can help even more families. And that’s just the start of her day.
Michelle is the Senior Health Educator at The Floating Hospital, which provides health services to New York City’s homeless shelter population as well as the local communities of Long Island City and the Queensbridge Public Houses. The goal is to help the whole family, so, as The Floating Hospital provides health services to parents, Michelle and her staff offer, with parental permission, healthy snacks and age-appropriate—and entertaining—lessons on a variety of health-themed topics. Parents can relax and get the treatment they need, knowing their children are in a safe, loving environment.
One important message to the families is that they matter. As Michelle says: “I’m from the school of ‘it takes a community to raise a child,’” and that’s apparent to her clients, who feel respected and supported in the clinic environment. Adds Michelle, “So many of our clients feel that because they’re homeless, they don’t deserve good things.” The families served by The Floating Hospital often live with overwhelming stress and Michelle’s goal is to reduce that stress, to be proactive and not just reactive in serving family needs.
As part of that mission, Michelle is overseeing an expansion of the Reach Out and Read children’s literacy program, which offers children from 6 months to 5 years old free books and counsels parents on the importance of reading aloud. The Floating Hospital’s program currently serves homeless children and will now expand to children from Queensbridge Houses who receive services through The Floating Hospital. Michelle is working with our development staff to secure additional funding to expand this wonderful program. As she puts it, “If a child comes in who is 6 or 7, I will encourage him or her to read too.”
Michelle and her team hope to keep expanding services, as the need grows. She has helped secure a summer lunch program, which provides nutritious bagged lunches to children during the summer months, when children are often hungriest. And Michelle hopes to find funding for a program to support adolescents who are often in dire need of life skills, reproductive health education, and emotional support. Understanding what a healthy relationship looks like is so important at this vulnerable age. As she says “I see the journey our families take and helping them along the way is rewarding.”
The Floating Hospital has provided a healthier and more hopeful future to millions of New Yorkers. Help support the work Michelle and The Floating Hospital do for the community—and all they hope to accomplish in the future.