RICHMOND, Va. -- When California native Racha Tahani Lawler Queen decided to make the move from Los Angeles to Richmond, the midwife and mother of three sought to help fill a void in the community.
"I am a fourth-generation midwife. In my 20s, I went to my first home birth, I was invited by a family member. We have seen as midwives when the care provider reflects the community, then the community has better outcomes," Lawler-Queen said.
She found a home for rent nestled in Richmond's Southside, hoping to soon transform the space into a nook for moms to give birth.
"I wanted to gather us back in, I wanted to bring us together, that's how we celebrate life, that's how we celebrate," Lawler-Queen said.
Named Gather Grounded Midwifery, the birthing center focuses on creating a warm and welcoming environment for moms, especially for those in various minority communities.
"Right now in the United States specifically, Black people, brown, indigenous and those of the LGBTQIA community have the worst birthing statistics in every state," Lawler-Queen said.
Lawler-Queen is now working to transform the home and says when she's done, she hopes to provide a loving space for anyone who steps foot in the door.
"My overall desire, truly, is to create a safe space for Black, brown, indigenous and queer families in Richmond," Lawler-Queen said.
Reflecting on the love and light those before she have shown in various birthing rooms, classrooms and self-care spaces, she said she's also hoping to cultivate a safe space to learn. The birthing center will also hold midwifery classes and will offer apprenticeships.
"It's really hard to get an apprenticeship, it's really hard to find midwives that will accept students, especially Black students. For this to be a home base for some folks than to go out into the world and continue this work of supporting more Black, brown, indigenous and queer families," Lawler-Queen said.
A true labor of Love, Lawler-Queen said she hopes to have the center ready for the community sometime in the spring.
"There's a lot of work that needs to be done to make it comfortable and to make it safe," Lawler-Queen said.
Still in need of things like furniture, appliances and additional groundskeeping, there is a GoFundMe set up to support the birthing center.