Reaching Our Sisters Everywhere (ROSE), Inc.) was founded in July 2011 by three Atlanta-based women who have worked in the field of maternal and child health (MCH) for the past twenty-five years. As working mothers they experienced how worksites left women to feed their babies in locations where employees would not think to eat their lunch, including bathrooms, basements and storage rooms. From her early clinical training in a hospital maternity unit to work as a nurse practitioner, Kimarie Bugg, MSN, FNP-BC, MPH, CLC, observed how the prenatal healthcare system not only failed to teach and encourage breastfeeding, but often impeded it. Since its founding, ROSE has grown to a network that includes physicians, nurses, nutritionist, social workers, peer counselors and parents.
In August 2012 when ROSE received its 501©3 nonprofit status from the Internal Revenue Service, it began with a mission to enhance the overall mental, spiritual and physical health of African American women, babies and their families by working collaboratively to encourage, promote, support and protect breastfeeding throughout the United States by training healthcare providers on culturally effective techniques. Its primary goal was to increase the percentage of African-American women breastfeed and thereby reach the target breastfeeding goal outlined in Healthy People 2020.
ROSE currently provides outreach, education and technical assistance to prenatal care providers and delivery centers to encourage them to adopt practices that support breastfeeding in their policies. Interventions may be as simple as recommending lactation volunteers to work on their maternity wards, or as involved as helping administrators to train staff or develop policies for breastfeeding support.
ROSE’s founders were in the forefront of achieving these hard-won gains and its growing network so that it is best-positioned to fulfill its newly defined mission. In order to achieve the 81% increase of African-American women who breastfeed by 2020, there will need to be nationally-focused programs that involve a range of stakeholders: breastfeeding women, individuals, family, health providers and community and public policymakers.