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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Community Baby Shower

I was 38 when I finally got pregnant with Gray.  We waited, sometimes longingly and impatiently, for a child to arrive.  I knew, without a doubt, that someday I’d be a mom so as I waited I prepared really, really well.  My parents, on the other hand, have a completely different story.  My mom was 18 and my dad was 21 when I was born, and they struggled, worked hard, and relied on the generosity of family and friends to get by.  I’m certain that if the Community Baby Shower had been around in 1968, my parents could have used the help.

That’s exactly why the FOX8 Community Baby Shower came to be.  “There was a need, and we wanted to help,” said Chris Edwards, President of A Cleaner World.  “Having a baby is such a joy.  New parents should be focusing on loving, nurturing, and enjoying the baby, not how they are going to pay for diapers and formula.”  To participate in the Community Baby Shower simply drop off new things like diapers, wipes, formula, and supplies or gently used things like baby clothes, toys, and cribs at any Triad area A Cleaner World from April 17 through May 12, 2017.  Family Service of the Piedmont and Family Services of Forsyth County will collect and distribute the donated items to new mothers and babies in need throughout our community.

To get an idea of what kind of impact the Community Baby Shower had last year, I talked to Angel Boyd-Gilyard, the Healthy Start’s Program Manager (Healthy Start is Guilford County's version of Head Start) with Family Service of the Piedmont.  Family Service of the Piedmont is a non-profit, grant funded organization that runs several programs including the Healthy Start program, a program that goes from birth to age 2.  While all their programs benefit from the Community Baby Shower, Healthy Start benefits the most.  Here’s an example of how your donations are put to great use.  A Spanish speaking woman fled to Guilford County, leaving a domestic violence situation, with a toddler in her hands, the clothes on her back, and expecting another child soon.  Thanks to the donations from the Community Baby Shower, she received all the things she needed for both her newborn baby and her toddler.  One year later, she has her own place, is working, has her children in childcare, and donates the clothing and items back to the program so that someone else can use them.  “Families that receive items from Healthy Start are definitely in need,” explained Angel, “but they are also actively participating in parenting programs.  It’s a voluntary program, and they are there because they want to be better parents.  They are 100% committed to the program.”

Thanks to donations from last year’s Community Baby Shower, Family Service of the Piedmont had ample supplies for 6 months.  Angel said they always have a need for baby gates, infant clothing, and baby blankets, and she pointed out that even partial packs of diapers and wipes can be put to good use.

I also had the pleasure of speaking with Michelle Melton, Assistant Director of Public Relations, Family Services of Forsyth County; Family Services of Forsyth County is also a non-profit organization that relies on donations and grants.  They too run a number of programs but primarily focus on child development from birth to age 5, preparing a child to succeed not only in Kindergarten but also in life.  Michelle had so many terrific stories about what kind of impact the Community Baby Shower had in Forsyth County.  There's the phone call from a nurse at Wake Forest Baptist Hospital who shared a story of a mom that had no baby supplies or family that could help.  The nurse saw the Fox 8 promo and decided to call; Family Services provided the new mom with a diaper bag full of essentials.  How about the young mom in her 20’s that was finishing her degree at WSSU.  She was graduating in May but was due in February.  They were able to provide her with needed supplies, and now she’s doing great.  Finally, they recently met with a mom that received help last year.  She’s finishing up a medial coding certificate at Forsyth Tech and is so incredibly grateful for the help she received.

While the success stories are fun to share and make me smile, here are some statistics that shocked me.  Did you know that 1/3 of kids in Forsyth County live in poverty and that among those that live in poverty, 58% are single parent families headed by mom?  That’s the kind of information that motivates me to take action…..to throw a pack of diapers or a couple pacifiers in my basket while doing my family’s shopping.  The thing is, when you donate to the Fox 8 Community Baby Shower, those supplies are so much more than just diapers and wipes.  “When Fox 8 approached us last year,” explained Michelle, “we realized it would give us the opportunity to work with children, provide essentials, and work with the mom.  The unique thing about Head Start is that it’s not just about the child; it’s about the whole family, and every child has an advocate as long as they remain in the program.  That advocate helps identify needs that should be addressed, but moreover, we can help families become self-sufficient on their own and help change the path they are on.”  Thanks to generous donations from last year’s Community Baby Shower, Family Services of Forsyth County was able to assist 70 new or soon-to-be mothers who had little or nothing to welcome their child.  Michelle pointed out that many mothers don’t know the gender of their baby, so gender-neutral items are greatly appreciated.
 
The Fox8 Community Baby Shower kicks off in just a few days, and I hope these stories encourage you to be a part of such a worthwhile event.  Drop off at any Triad area A Cleaner World.

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