President Lyndon B. Johnson authorized the creation of National Hispanic Heritage Week on September 17, 1968. Nearly twenty years later, the designated week was expanded to a full month of celebration from September 15 to October 15. This year is the 50th anniversary! We take this time of year to honor the heritage and cultures Hispanic and Latinx mothers and their families.
Statistics reveal that on average, more than 80% of Latinx mothers initiate breastfeeding. This is a statistic worth celebrating during and beyond this month! Latinx breastfeeding advocates in the U.S. and South America also speak to the work to improve breastfeeding duration and exclusive breastfeeding rates.
Here in the Midwest, The Milk Bank works alongside medical professionals, social services, and new mothers to provide growing families with bilingual, culturally mindful, and accurate educational information, resources, and support services to ensure all infants have access to safe human milk.
In honor of Latinx Heritage Month, we interviewed someone we love and work with every day here at our office. Adriana Tebbe is the Bilingual Donor Specialist at The Milk Bank and she shares more about her work and why National Hispanic Heritage Month is important to our mission.
Tell us more about your professional background and what brought you to The Milk Bank team.
I have a master’s degree in Social Work and my concentration is in Child Welfare. I have always worked for not for profit organizations in the Child Welfare field. I am also passionate about women’s rights and empowerment. Working at The Milk Bank takes on some of both of those interests. I am a mother of a 5-year-old who was breastfed and struggled to do so. So, I am happy to be able to help mothers who struggle with the process feel empowered and more secure in knowing that they are doing what is best for their baby.
You started as a pasteurization tech and transitioned into the role of bilingual donor specialist. How has your experience in pasteurization helped you connect with donors and others in the community?
I started working for The Milk Bank full time in May of 2016. I worked in pasteurization in the mornings and did the donor screenings, outreach, etc. in the afternoons. I transitioned into my role as a Bilingual Donor Specialist full time about a year after. When speaking to others about what we do at The Milk Bank, my experience in pasteurization has helped because I can better explain the steps it takes to get the milk ready to be pasteurized and why we pasteurize the milk. I feel more prepared to answer more specific questions that others may have when at events and when screening potential donors on the phone.
September 15 – October 15 is National Hispanic/Latinx Heritage Month. How does your identity shape your work at The Milk Bank?
I feel very passionate about reaching out and hopefully helping mothers who are of Hispanic/Latinx Heritage be knowledgeable about breastfeeding, about raising their children the way they want, and feel empowered to do so without pressure or restraints. Language barriers can certainly be a detriment and being able to provide information in Spanish to mothers who want to learn about The Milk Bank and the services we provide can be helpful to all involved.
Why is it important to talk about and engage with Latino parents and families about the benefits of breastfeeding, the availability of resources and support, and the power of milk donation and donor milk?
I feel that disseminating information to all families and mothers is important, no matter what language they speak or where they are from. Having the ability to provide services in Spanish, allows The Milk Bank to be more inclusive and aware of those who are part of our community. It also means we are aware of the limited resources families who speak other languages have due to communication barriers.
What does The Milk Bank offer to Spanish-speaking families?
At The Milk Bank we can complete all donor screenings, approvals, and breastfeeding assistance in Spanish. We can also work with mothers who have lost a baby to donate their milk and have a leaf hung on our Garrett's Gift Giving Tree in memory of their baby.