Friday, February 27, 2009

Jana Borino: A Retrospective

In Memoriam ::
Jana Borino

December 5, 1964 -
February 13, 2009

This biograpohy was reproduced from the program to Jana's memorial service, with permission from the collaborative authors. The service was held at Kanapaha Botanical Gardens in Gainesville, Florida. Guests were encouraged to wear bright colors, children were invited to speak, and the service closed with all present joining in song.

Jana Borino was born on December 5, 1964 to parents Carl and Sue Borino in Belleville, NJ, and was raised in Pompano Beach and Plantation, FL. Jana was an independent spirit who, from an early age, enjoyed music and dancing. Jana grew up along side her brother Carl Borino and her sister Terri Borino-Gordon. At the young age of 11, Jana valiantly braved Hodgkin's disease. During these early years, Jana was greatly influenced by her paternal grandmother, Tessie Borino, who gave her a respect for the birth process and the rearing of a child. At age 18, Jana packed her car and moved to Gainesville, Florida where she met her husband of over 26 years, Keith Gretter. When Jana became pregnant with their first daughter Chelsea, she became a client of the Birth Center of Gainesville, and delivered Chelsea at home with the assistance of a Midwife and some of her closest friends. This personal experience at the age of 19 ignited a passion in Jana for the field of midwifery.

After such an incredible birth herself, Jana knew that she wanted to become a Midwife so that she could be of assistance to other families looking for an alternative to a hospital birth. Jana attempted to enroll in Midwifery school, but her dreams were quickly halted when an amendment was added to the Midwifery bill in the state of Florida. This amendment prohibited any new students from gaining licensure, or allowing them to legally practice Midwifery in the state of Florida. Jana believed strongly in the values that midwives bring to communities and began a crusade to once again legalize the practice of direct-entry midwives. In 1992, the hard work of many individuals across the state, including Jana, paid off when Florida Statue 467, The Midwifery Practice Act, that allowed for the licensing of direct-entry midwives in Florida was once again opened. Jana felt deeply that Gainesville needed a Midwifery school that would allow students to become Licensed Midwives upon completion. Jana's vision came to fruition with community outreach and education, trips to Tallahassee, and many fundraising events. Jana met with numerous state officials to develop a curriculum framework for educational programs under the new law. During this time in Jana's life she also gave birth to their second daughter, Emma. Emma's homebirth assisted by a Midwife only strengthened Jana's commitment to her vision of a Midwifery school in Gainesville. Jana's many roles in her community and in her home were supported directly by the love and compassion of her husband Keith. His continued support allowed Jana to reach each and every goal she set for herself, her community, and her family.

Once the law was passed, Jana brought together a group of strong and intelligent women to form the founding Board of Directors of the Florida School of Traditional Midwifery (FSTM), and soon after these women accepted their first class. Jana was the founding mother and Executive Director of the FSTM for over 13 years. Jana made many contributions to the school with her incredible teaching, fundraising, grant-writing and public-speaking skills. Not only did Jana fight for the advancement of Midwifery in the state of Florida as well as nationally, she attended numerous births as a Midwife's Assistant for over 20 years. Jana also served on many boards and committees of national, state and local midwifery organizations, including as a board member of the Foundation for the Advancement of Midwifery. This foundation recently created a grant called "The Jana Borino Award for Community Development," to honor Jana's numerous contributions to the field of Midwifery.

Almost 13 years ago, during a beautiful homebirth, Jana and Keith brought their third daughter, Tessie into the world. Shortly after that, Jana was diagnosed with breast cancer, which she battled and braved for the past 10 years. After a long and valiant fight, Jana passed away peacefully in her home in Gainesville, FL on February 13, 2009, surrounded by her loving family. Although many of us remember Jana as a pioneer, visionary and powerhouse in the field of Midwifery, Jana herself was most proud of her role as mother to her three beautiful daughters, Chelsea, Emma and Tessie. Even though she was tireless in her work in our community, she always kept the girls close to her heart and encouraged their growth into strong and healthy women.

Jana was passionately committed to her friends. They would all laugh in a heartfelt way when each of them would say they were Jana's best friend...and they were. Jana had the special gift of making each person feel loved, special and worthy. She insisted that each live their dream and find the commitment within themselves to make a difference in our world. Her determination to be a voice for women, children, and families came through time and again in her role as a community leader, mother and friend.

As Jana's spirit leaves her physical body and begins its new journey, we know we will never be the same. Left behind is a legacy of families whose lives have been forever touched by the mission of this extraordinary woman. All of us in Jana's life know that this world is a better place because of her.