It Takes A Village: Our Shelter Baby Shower With Welcome Baby
Recently we hosted a baby shower for mamas-to-be at a local family shelter with Welcome Baby, an organization that serves women and families living below the poverty line with the essentials for the first month after birth. Our dedicated HATCH gals team spent the morning building care packages for pregnant women brimming with necessary newborn supplies. Together, we had the honor of delivering the boxes and celebrating these strong, beautiful, and kind women in welcoming their babies.
Here, we reflect on our day of service in conversation with Sarah Steinhardt and Juliet Fuizs, the game-changing women behind Welcome Baby. With gratitude at the forefront, we’re reminded, it takes a village.
“We live in a community and are responsible for taking care of each other.”
There’s something extremely powerful in recognizing the thread that runs through all of us. It’s easy to lose sight of the fact that we are responsible for each other to a certain extent. What we’ve seen over the past year and a half with Welcome Baby has been reminded of that. We are all members of the same community, and we have to take care of each other. @welcomebabyusa
Earlier last week, we spent the day packing boxes at the HATCH offices in preparation for hosting a baby shower at a local shelter in NYC. Each box we packed contained, 220 diapers (roughly a month-long supply of 110 newborn size and 110 size one), a month supply of wipes, several pacifiers, two different rash creams, baby wash and moisturizer, a baby carrier, a thermometer, a grooming kit, clothing, mittens, socks, bottles, a blanket, and swaddles.
“We have been overwhelmed by how much HATCH has related to our mission and wanted to get involved. Thank you so much to the whole team.” @welcomebabyusa
“I realize when you’re connecting with other people, women especially, it’s impossible not to feel our shared humanity; it’s incredibly powerful.”
How did you decide to start Welcome Baby?
We have been friends since college and were pregnant at the same time. During our pregnancies and the months that followed, we were in constant communication about our shared experience of becoming moms (you know that one friend that can relate to everything you’re feeling!). However, we lived in different states with one of us in NYC and the other in Ohio. While the concept of Welcome Baby had been percolating for a few years, it wasn’t until June of 2018 that we set the wheels in motion. By August of 2018, we had delivered our first boxes.
Who are your partners in distributing the boxes?
Our first partner was Mount Sinai’s OBGYN Ambulatory Clinic. That clinic serves some of the poorest women across the city. A lot of these women are living in shelters and subsidized housing. Then we quickly brought on a unit at NYU, two community health organizations in Ohio, plus two in Harlem, and our network of shelters in the NYC boroughs and Ohio. We also work with the Children’s Museum Of The East End.
“That clinic serves some of the poorest women across the city. A lot of these women are living in shelters and subsidized housing.”
“Everyone recognizes the immediate needs of the baby, but not as often do people recognize how physically broken and emotionally overwhelmed the mother can be in the early days after birth.”
Juliet, why did you feel strongly about launching Welcome Baby?
When I had my daughter, it was the most challenging moment in my life. My father was terminally ill and passed away six months after I gave birth. It was such a difficult time; I was back and forth to the hospital 4 to 5 times a day to be with my parents and would run home in between to breastfeed. I was a complete wreck emotionally and physically. Through that experience, I realized women aren’t giving birth in a vacuum or some idyllic situation — often, there are many complicating factors in their lives, be it family health or financial stress. It became evident to me how important it is for women to have support. What I love about the work we do with Welcome Baby is we offer a robust solution to a real problem. The problem is, many women don’t have the supplies they need because they either can’t afford them or they can’t get out of the house to get them. Our boxes answer the whole problem for a month. I believe it’s vital to set people up in the best way possible from the start.
“All moms need the same set of supplies, and this answers that whole problem for a month, leveling the playing field for all babies and new mothers.”
Sarah, what was your calling to start Welcome Baby?
When my first son was born, amid dealing with postpartum anxiety, I had to go out and get diapers in the snow. On my way to the store, I remember thinking, ‘What if I couldn’t afford these diapers?’ Gutted, I questioned why there’s not adequate support for new mothers? It didn’t seem acceptable to me.
At the same time, I was reading about Finland’s model to supply every woman with a baby box post-birth. I figured there had to be something we could do to even the playing field for all babies and new mothers. After all, motherhood is a universal experience, and everyone is someone’s child, mother, sister, or aunt.
“Imagine only being able to buy two days’ worth of diapers at a time because that’s all you can afford. What would that mean for me? What would that mean for my baby?”
How does the work you do impact the moms positively?
Moms are genuinely our primary focus. Everyone immediately recognizes how delicate new babies are in their first month of life. Yet, it’s not as apparent how often physically broken, and emotionally overwhelmed mothers are post-birth. While the supplies are for the baby, the financial relief, and the confidence that comes with knowing that you have the items you need to raise an infant is for the mother. It’s a MASSIVE transition that mainly goes unrecognized. Our boxes immediately relieve stress and equip the mom in the way that she deserves. No one should be trying to figure out how to get diapers along with everything else.
“Motherhood is a universal experience.”
Newborns must have a healthy hygienic start to life. The studies show that when wet diapers are stretched and left on too long, it creates terrible illness in children and affects the mental health of the mother. We feel that starting life with that kind of physical stress on the baby is unacceptable.
“Newborns must have a healthy hygienic start to life.”
“Yes, the supplies are for the baby, but the financial relief and the confidence that comes with knowing that you have the items you need to raise an infant is for the mother.”
A few months ago, we were delivering a load of boxes to a group of women at a family shelter. As we were leaving, one of the fathers came running after us, and said in a hushed voice, ‘I want you to know how grateful my wife and I are as this helps us so much. Most of the time, we feel forgotten. Knowing there are people like you out there, thinking and caring about us, means the world. God bless you.’ I was floored.
Typically we work with professional health workers, social workers, and nurses that decide which moms are in the greatest need, and they distribute them accordingly.
“Every woman who gives birth should have access to this package. These are necessities, not luxuries.
For more details on Welcome Baby and how you can get involved, please visit: www.welcomebabyusa.org