Who Deserves Your Attention on Mother’s Day

  • May 08, 2018
  • Health Coach Juanita Castillo and the Health Coach Program teaching individuals how to eat healthier at the Boehringer Ingelheim Americares Free Clinic of Danbury.
  • Michael's Blog
Michael J. Nyenhuis

Michael J. Nyenhuis

Americares President and CEO Michael J. Nyenhuis leads a health-focused relief and development organization that saves lives and improves health for people affected by poverty or disaster.


Yes, Mother’s Day is right around the corner here in the United States and a number of other countries. I hope you have a beloved woman in your life who deserves a visit, call, gift or hug on this special day.

Even as we celebrate, I am mindful of the millions of children around the world who are growing up without mothers. By one estimate, there are more than 50 million orphans who do not have a mother to guide their steps. My heart aches for them, especially today.

I wonder at times about my own fortune. I have been blessed with two women who have played the role of mother in my life. Through pictures and stories, I remember the mother who gave birth to me and raised me through those formative first years. I was a young child when she died, but my character continues to reflect her imprint. When my father remarried, a new woman entered my life. First a stranger, she became a step-mother and then, fully, my mom. The paths I have chosen reflect her influence.

I think of both every Mother’s Day: Kathy and Carol. One helped me take my first steps and sent me off to my first day of school. The other drove me to soccer practice, celebrated my graduations and watched me walk down the aisle. Yes, the trauma of losing a mother and the transition of gaining another was difficult. But, somehow, the two of them provided a foundation that made it possible for me to build a healthy future.

The critical role mothers play in the health of their children is well documented. A mother’s health, her education and social status — even just her presence — have all been shown to impact the physical and mental health and general well-being of her children. That’s why improving the health of mothers is one key focus of our work around the world.

Recently, I heard from a mother who is a patient at one of Americares Free Clinics. These health centers provide free care to low-income uninsured patients in our home state of Connecticut. Like many women in her community, the stress of balancing home life and work, struggling to make ends meet and caring for her family left her with little energy for herself. Her health deteriorated and she developed the chronic disease diabetes.

Working with our medical staff and health coachshe was provided with the medicine she needed and coached to improve her diet and lifestyle. As a result, she lowered her weight and brought her diabetes under control. She said her changed lifestyle was important for her, but more so for her daughter. This caring mother didn’t want her daughter to end up in poor health and felt proud that she could now model a healthier lifestyle.

Moms care about their kids. That’s why they play so many roles in our lives. Perhaps the best way to celebrate on May 13 is to flip roles and play caregiver to our mothers. But let’s not stop there: We also honor the caring women in our lives when we attend to our families and communities and extend that care to struggling mothers and children around the world who need our help.

Happy Mother’s Day!