Despite the city’s efforts to improve the ongoing homeless crisis
, there are still thousands of people
who call the streets of S.F. home. Of this population, about 5% are pregnant women
, who find themselves without access to any prenatal care.
That's where The Homeless Prenatal Program
comes in, which was founded by Martha Ryan, a former registered nurse, in 1989. The non-profit offers assistance to women by providing housing, nutritional and career counseling, and education on how to raise a healthy baby. Approximately 90% of babies born to women in the program are delivered healthy and drug-free.
Women also receive help seeking employment, and support if they are victims of domestic violence. Approximately a third of the program's current volunteers are previous participants of the program themselves.
Maternity photos are taken free of charge by Keri Vaca, photographer, and creator of Small Miracles
. She has been helping homeless Bay Area women for over seven years by snapping personal keepsakes during their pregnancy. "It kind of happened by coincidence," Vaca said.
"Ryan explained the program, and I said I would love to come photograph the moms who were enrolled in the prenatal classes for free. I was a maternity photographer and it seemed like the perfect fit for volunteering my services," she says. Vaca brings maternity clothes to photo shoots, and makes a comfortable environment for them.
As Vaca points out, "we are all way more alike than different, especially us moms. These moms look like us, want the same things for their baby as we want for ours, and are good people who have fallen on hard times. They are not looking for a handout, they are looking for guidance to get back on their feet."
Click through to see the striking photos and celebrate the raw, universal beauty of motherhood.