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Whole Health’s Moms PLUS+ to Sponsor Free Event, “Family Health Community Café,” Saturday March 4th

(Ithaca, N.Y., February 24, 2023) – Tompkins County Whole Health (TCWH) is sharing with the community information about our first “Family Health Community Café,” a free event for the whole family. The event will take place on Saturday, March 4th, from 10:30am – 1:30pm, in the Borg Warner Community Room at the Tompkins County Public Library (101 E. Green St., Ithaca).

The event, presented in partnership with Ithaca’s Mama’s Comfort Camp, will include a screening of excerpts from the locally produced documentary, “Helpful Help,” filmed by Uplifted Ithaca’s Shira Evergreen and produced by Yael Saar, Founder of Mama’s Comfort Camp. “Helpful Help” explores what gets in the way of effective support for maternal needs and will be followed by a panel discussion on ways the community and healthcare providers can improve access to effective support.

After the panel, Yael Saar will provide a demonstration on “ComFortitude Skills for Winter”. Saar stated, “ComFortitude is the capacity to find comfort and strength from the inside out. We will teach practical tools that include gentle movement patterns and breathing techniques that calm the central nervous system and create a sense of safety in the mind and body. These self-calming skills require no medications, cost nothing, and are effective ways to reduce anxiety and improve moods, especially in winter. Best of all, what people learn in half an hour continues to support them for the rest of their life.”

Snacks and warm drinks will be provided, and participants will be able to take home a free mug, along with a diaper give-away and other prizes.

Arts and craft activities will be on hand for entertaining children while parents have an opportunity to meet with staff from TCWH’s Moms PLUS+ program, a home visiting nurse program that provides maternal child health supportive services, free of cost, to residents of Tompkins County regardless of insurance status. Community Health Workers will also be on hand to provide additional resources and support navigating community systems.

Samantha Hillson, Director of Health Promotion at TCWH stated, “The Moms PLUS+ program is designed to improve equitable access to quality maternal child health care, increase lactation support for parents choosing to breast and chest feed and enhance the coordination of care with other community partners. Our vision for the Family Health Community Cafés is to create space for parents/caregivers to voice their needs and ask questions about maternal child health and access to services.”

Celeste Rakovich, Senior Community Health Nurse at TCWH stated, “The kick-off event will take place during Ithaca’s Chili Fest, offering families respite, warmth and care during a busy, exciting time. This event is meant to bring support to families, to introduce the public to our available services, and provide an opportunity to meet staff and ask questions. We look forward to meeting any expecting or parenting persons at our upcoming event and to continuing these important community conversations.”

Rakovich continued, “We would like to thank our community sponsors, including Wegmans for donation of food and drink, and TCPL for use of their space. Thank you in advance to our guest panelists, Phoebe Brown and McKenzie Jones. We are especially grateful for the support of Yael Saar (Mama’s Comfort Camp) in co-hosting this event with us.”

The mission of Mama’s Comfort Camp centers on facilitating the asking and receiving of help. Saar adds, “At Mama’s Comfort Camp, we believe that creating opportunities for direct conversations between the mothers and families and maternal healthcare providers is absolutely necessary for removing barriers for access to perinatal health support. We are excited and grateful to Tompkins County Whole Health for seeing the relationship between this film and their work and showing up for a conversation with the community.”

Tompkins County Whole Health (formerly the Tompkins County Health Department): envisioning a future where every person in Tompkins County can achieve wellness. Find us online at, and follow us on Facebook at  and on Twitter at @TCWholeHealthSign up to receive Whole Health updates or other county announcements via email or text.

Media contact: Shannon Alvord,