Volunteer Spotlight: Dawn Douglas-Coker

Sixteen years ago, I became a CAPPA certified postpartum doula. As part of my continuing education, I discovered PSVA. It was then under the leadership of Adrienne. Her passion for the organization was overwhelmingly contagious and I couldn’t help but want to be involved. During my initial time with PSVa, I co-facilitated a support group. I also rendered my services as a postpartum doula when clients needed support. We were active duty military at the time and new duty stations moved us from the area. Twice we returned to the Northern VA area and each time I reconnected with PSVa. PSVa was and continues to be, a place where I was/am able to learn more for my profession and to better understand what my clients may be experiencing. There has always been a natural and nurturing relationship between me, my career, and PSVa. Currently, I serve as a warmline volunteer for the organization.

What I love most about my role with PSVa is that it gives me an opportunity to practice what I love while helping women and families. I am blessed to be able to say that my work is my passion. When I speak with clients on the warmline and hear their relief at being reassured that they are not alone, that there is help, and that they are indeed an amazing mom, my heart gets full each and every time. I love that we are a fingerprint in their recovery and that we are helping them reach a point where they can find love in being a mom. But most of all, I love that they trust us to walk this journey with them, even if it starts with just a phone call.

I am blessed that my passion, my work, and my favorite hobby are one in the same, postpartum work. While I am employed with Let Mommy Sleep, I often gift my services to those in need. There is no greater joy for me than helping a family integrate a new life. When not being a postpartum doula, most times I can be found doing service ministry with my church. Giving back keeps me going forward. I also love outdoor winter activities, have a passion for cooking (and eating!), love experiencing live theater, and thrive on spending time with girlfriends.

Postpartum depression and anxiety are real. Yet, there is so much that we can do to help women get on the other side of it. As a volunteer, any amount of time or talent that you can give can make a difference to a woman and to the organization. Define your natural ability and I’m sure there is a place in PSVa for it to be of value. And if not your time or talent, your dollars enable PSVA to continue to enhance its network and teaching, to reach women in so many ways. Every call I take from a doctor’s office asking for more pamphlets means we are reaching women. And every pamphlet supplied is because your dollars enabled us to print. We’re making a difference.

The advice I would give to perinatal people and their families is, you are not alone! Whether you struggle with PPD, newborn care, or family dynamics, don’t be afraid to reach out for help. I promise you that if YOU’RE feeling it, thousands of others have also felt it. Whatever you’re feeling doesn’t make you any less of an amazing parent. But reaching out for help does show how dedicated and determined you are to actually be that amazing parent. This parenting journey is one that doesn’t come with a GPS, but thank goodness for organizations like PSVa, you can have someone to ride shotgun with you!

For self-care, I try to get in a 4-5 mile walk with a friend Mon-Fri each week. This is my greatest physical and mental self-care as we often joke that we have saved each other thousands of dollars in therapy. I also enjoy going to the movies alone as it gives me a chance to “hide” from the world and not have to answer to anyone, but rather to escape into another world. And, lastly, being able to empty my thoughts and feelings onto paper and seeing them transform into words is probably the most valuable self-care routine that I am able to do any time and anywhere.

If I could have lunch with anyone, I would choose my mother, who passed away in 2016. She was my mother, my best friend, my mentor, and my spiritual guide. Life without her has left a void for wisdom and wise counsel that no other has been able to fill. I have lots of questions and I need her advice!

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