Sherry Payne, RN, MSN, CNE, IBCLC
Kansas City, Missouri
Sherry Payne is the 2013 IBCLC inductee and executive director of Uzazi Village, a nonprofit organization devoted to decreasing pregnancy related health disparities in the urban core of Kansas City, Missouri. Payne is a certified nurse educator and midwifery student, as well as the founder of The Chocolate Milk Café, a monthly gathering and support group for African American women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Payne has been asked to present her work from Uzazi Village at several national conferences. She dedicates her time and talents to improving the lives of all babies and fostering a supportive environment for breastfeeding.
The moment I heard about Uzazi Village, I knew that I had to go there for support. I spent hours perusing the website and became fascinated with the vision that Sherry Payne had for the community. I immersed myself into her passions and desire to see the community combat maternal and baby health disparities. I am the first woman in my family, to successfully breastfeed any children past ten months of age. Most of which did not attempt, or did not nurse any children past three months of age.
I physically met Sherry when I was pregnant with my son, Junior, who is now five months old. In a horrible turn of events, my son was fighting for his life in the NICU, shortly after his birth. He was on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), for five days, which increased his risks of having trouble with oral feedings. Upon talking to Sherry she was immediately heartbroken about our current situation. She offered to help in any way possible, and even called upon the members of our community and support group, Chocolate Milk CafÃ©, to keep us in their thoughts. She encouraged me to ask about other options for feedings, nipple shields, syringe, cup feeding, etc. However, she also informed me that she was not very familiar with crises such as mine, so it would be good to seek support from the hospitals staff of consultants. I appreciate her humility in acknowledging her weaknesses. That is the mark of a great leader.
At the most frightening time in my life, being plague by thoughts of losing my only son, Sherry believed in my strength as a mother. More importantly than breastfeeding, she understood that I needed encouragement and a shoulder to cry on and vent to. She understands the value the village adds to childrearing, and she is now an integral part of our village. My son is nursing victoriously and reaching all of his milestones with flying colors. The aid she provided will manifest itself in the long-term health of me, my son, and generations to come.