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In Tampa Heights, Community Roots Collective offers unique support for families, expectant parents

Charlie Rae Young, a licensed midwife and lactation counselor, gives Yamel Belen her 16-week checkup at Community Roots Collective, a new family care co-op in Tampa Heights.
Published Jul. 2, 2015

TAMPA HEIGHTS — Charlie Rae Young helps Yamel Belen on to the examination table.

She places a microphone on the woman's slightly swollen stomach and an amplified heartbeat pumps from a set of speakers. There's a thump as a tiny foot kicks against the microphone, and then another.

"That's one busy baby," Young says.

Young, a licensed midwife and lactation counselor, is the driving force behind Community Roots Collective. The family care co-op opened in April in a century-old former home on the corner of Palm Avenue and N Jefferson Street in Tampa Heights.

Young, 27, runs her practice from a room off the second floor foyer. Downstairs, the Growing Up retail store sells baby wraps and cloth diapers. Tucked into the building's other rooms and nooks are a family photography studio, an apothecary and massage space.

In starting Community Roots Collective, Young wanted to create a place for families and parents-to-be to come together, share resources and receive the services they need.

At the co-op you can get everything from a prenatal massage, to books on home birth, to humanely raised beef and pork from Growing Rootz, a small business that works with local farmers. There's also a swap center in a sunny second floor room full of gently used baby and maternity clothes.

Young, who lives in Ybor Heights, says her goal is to help people find their tribe.

"It doesn't matter how you had your baby, how you feed your baby, whether you go to school or church. We are here to support all families," she says. "It's not the 'natural birth club' or the 'home birth club.' It's the 'finding a good provider who cares about you club.' "

In the exam room, Young asks Belen about her weekend. The women chat about the weather, the beach.

This is the fifth child for Belen, a registered nurse from Plant City. Her first three children were born in the hospital. This will be her second home birth.

Asked how this appointment compares with her 16-week checkups at the ob-gyn and her answer is easy.

"We would have been done by now," she says. "No one else has taken the time to ask about my family, or what we did last weekend."

Young has worked as a midwife and doula for seven years. She also provides prenatal care for low-income families. She found her calling after the birth of her daughter eight years ago.

"I didn't know there were other options besides having a baby in the hospital," says Young, whose daughter was unnecessarily induced. "I had the exact opposite of the experience that I wanted. I had this epiphany that I can't be the only person that this is happening to."

The central location makes it easy to serve people throughout the county. Customers come from Pasco, Pinellas and Polk counties, as well as Riverview and Apollo Beach.

In the coming months Young says the center will offer yoga classes for infants and toddlers (and their parents), and maybe infant massage and baby sign language classes.

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