As we've seen with so many events scheduled in 2020, the Cape and Islands United Way's 3rd annual Community Baby Shower was done a bit differently. In past years, new and expectant mothers have gathered together as they are given essential supplies and resources to provide them with a stronger start to parenthood.
Due to the circumstances surrounding COVID-19, the United Way did not hold a public event this year. But, resources for our communities' low income families are needed now more than ever, so baby supplies and educational materials were hand delivered to our families during the week of July 27th.
While the in person event provides an opportunity for families to connect, deliveries allow for a more individualized approach and eliminates the barrier or transportation for a new mom.
A community connects
The Community Baby Shower is made possible by Women United, an affiliate group of the Cape and Islands United Way, a sponsorship from Cape Cod Five, and the generous donations of individuals, local businesses and approximately 15 local agencies.
This year, 46 new moms and families received a care box of supplies (including items such as clothing, bibs, books, wipes and bottles), a case of diapers and a handmade blanket from A Baby Center. Deliveries made across the Cape by volunteers and staff, who took special precautions in accordance with public health guidance to limit the number of people who interacted with the items.
Based on feedback from last year, the educational materials and community resources delivered to each family included information on housing, play groups and other family resources. Also new this year was a handmade cotton mask and hand sanitizer for each mom.
The people who made it possible
Several community partners shared gifts and valuable information that was distributed to the families, including Duffy Health Center, Cape Cod Children’s Place, Housing Assistance, Community Action Committee of Cape & Islands, Health Imperatives, Barnstable County Department of Health and Environment, Cape Cod Children’s Museum, Cape Cod Moms, Cape Cod Family Resource Center, and our local Coordinated Family and Community Engagement Network (CFCE).
Countless anonymous donations were also made though drop boxes at local police and fire departments and Starbucks locations.
Background: The importance of investing in children
Four years ago, the Cape and Islands United Way formed a multidisciplinary team of local experts to brainstorm how we could “get upstream” of the challenges we face as a community – including substance abuse, mental health, food insecurity, financial instability, and an adequate work force -- by addressing the needs of our youngest children. The factors contributing to our community challenges are complex and interconnected. But we know that:
Investing in young children is an investment in future productivity and public safety that can return as much as $8 for every $1 invested.
Family environments are critical in determining education, skill, motivation, persistence, and self-control. Growing numbers of children face adverse environments that restrict their development.
The first 3 years of life are the period of most rapid brain growth.
And on the Cape, challenges of poverty and achievement are at the forefront. 13% of Cape Cod's children live in poverty, and many more are suffering from emotional poverty.
The Community Baby Shower is one way we can come together to help address these needs.
If you would like to learn more about how your local United Way continues to serve the community, please contact Mark Skala at firstname.lastname@example.org or Beth Bowman at email@example.com. If you are interested in learning more about Women United, please visit https://www.capeandislandsuw.org/women-united.