While much of the world came to a screeching halt when the COVID-19 pandemic was recognized, Danielle Villanueva, CLC took it as an opportunity to propel her work helping families.
Villanueva completed the Lactation Counselor Training Course (LCTC) in February 2020 just before our lives started to change.
Formerly a WIC peer counselor, she pursued the course in order to open a private practice and start her 501(c)(3) Latch & Love Lactation Support and Resource Center in Henderson, Texas.
“There was so much unknown, it made me want to do it even more knowing the help was going to be needed even more,” she says of launching her non-profit during the pandemic.
Latch & Love Lactation Support and Resource Center officially opened in January 2021 after taking the summer prior to fundraise.
Latch & Love offers lactation services, home visits, classes, support groups, and a donation center for families in need in a town with no other local lactation and breastfeeding support beyond WIC services.
“Whether it’s a single mom or dad, struggling family, foster or kinship placement, grandparents, etc., they are welcome here and we do whatever we can to help,” Villanueva explains.
Villanueva delved into this work after becoming unexpectedly pregnant at 18 with her daughter Esmè. Determined to breastfeed, she and her daughter were off to a solid start in the hospital.
“The second I got home, things started to go downhill,” Villanueva reports.
The closest lactation care was 40 minutes away– back at the hospital she delivered in.
“So there I was a young mom, postpartum still recovering from stitches and as you can imagine quite emotionally and physically exhausted,” Villanueva remembers.
She second-guessed making the trek with her baby for help, but ultimately made the trip.
“My visit with [the lactation care provider] changed everything and after that I just knew that this was my true calling,” she says.
“It’s really opened up a lot of people’s minds about [breastfeeding] and helped them to realize its importance,” she shares.
Virtually, she hosts “Talk it Out Tuesday” on Facebook and offers a support group that generally meets during the lunch hour, so that working parents can pop in on their break.
The local hospital now gives out Latch & Love’s information with their discharge information.
Villaneuva sees about one to two moms per week through her private practice, although she reports helping others via phone and messaging very frequently. Latch & Love Donation Center serves roughly two to four families each week.
“I couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else and I can’t wait to further my education in this field…” Villanueva adds. “Latch & Love is making a big difference in our community and I would love for everyone to hear about it.”