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Hephatha's Strong Baby Sanctuary: A Lifeline in Milwaukee

At the intersection of 18th and Locust St in Milwaukee, Hephatha Lutheran Church stands as a beacon of hope.

In 2015, Hephatha Lutheran Church created the Strong Baby Sanctuary (SBS) in response to the stark reality that black infants in Wisconsin are three times more likely to die before their first birthday than white infants.

SBS supports pregnant women and families with young children through education, healthcare referrals, supplies, and spiritual and social support to help decrease the potential for infant mortality. It has grown over the past eight years to become a lifeline for parents in the community, especially those with children under the age of one.

I have been a part of the Strong Baby Sanctuary since 2018 when I was pregnant with my twins and through my pregnancies with Kam’Yron and now Ka’Hloe. They have been a big help, especially when I couldn’t afford some things at times. I just really appreciate SBS for blessing me and my family.

~Sasharae, a participant since 2018 and a mother of four 

A community-led initiative, the SBS team have lived experience in the community surrounding the church. Regular meetings are held at Hephatha and at neighboring Hopkins Lloyd Community School where discussions range from self-care during pregnancy to the preventable causes of infant death.

SBS collaborates with partners like Aurora Healthcare, Milwaukee Health Department, Coalition on Lead Emergency, and the African American Breastfeeding Network. These partnerships offer vital resources, including blood pressure monitoring, lead prevention strategies, breastfeeding support, and essential items for child development.

Wisconsin's high infant mortality rates stem from prematurity and birth defects, with high blood pressure during pregnancy posing additional risks. Amidst these challenges, Hephatha not only provides crucial services but also fosters a network of support grounded in love, inspired by the teachings of Jesus.


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