Young dad Chris Pena drives a truck; having just qualified for a commercial driver’s license, he’ll be able to move up and continue to pay the rent two-bedroom apartment, where his wife stays home to care for the couple’s kids, 2 1/2-year old Lia and baby Zoe, born just three weeks ago.
Still the baby supplies do run out on Fridays, and Pena’s wife often has to wait until he comes home with his paycheck before she can go out and buy another batch of diapers.
That’s why he was happy to attend Fair Haven’s first-ever community baby shower, which helped Pena’s family and nine others with needed supplies.
The gathering took place Monday morning at the Fair Haven Community Health Center’s (FHCHC) newest facility at 50 Grand Ave., which opened in October 2015 and is home to a nurse-midwife program that helps deliver about 150 babies a year.
All the families are participants in the center’s state-funded Nurturing Families program. One Monday they each received a huge basket full of diapers, wipes, age-appropriate books, bibs, pacifiers, thermometers, and other baby care basics that make the joyous but incredibly stressful first months and years of a new baby’s life and that of her family more secure.
The items were purchased by the event’s organizers, The United Way of Greater New Haven, with about $4,600 donated by local corporate sponsors.
As daughter Lia happily hopped around during the ceremonies, Pena said he is committed to making his kids’ childhoods easier than his own in the South Bronx.
He said especially Monday’s shower gifts “take the edge off” financially.
The gift baskets were part of a kind of graduation celebration for FHCHC’s ten families enrolled in the Nurturing Families program, which features a ten- week course in both pre-natal and post-natal care, said Beth Pellegrino’s, United Way’s Director of Community Impact.
Resources permitting, the groups would like to make the community shower an annual event.
In addition to mountains of diapers, wipes, toys, books, bibs, and thermometers, United Way’s offices are also storing strollers, pack-and-play’s, car seats, and other larger size items available on an as-needed, family-by-family basis, said Nurturing Families Coordinator Evelyn Flamm.
The Fair Haven Community Health Center’s women’s care and midwife program has only about a 9 percent—compared to 34 percent nationally—rate for caesarean sections, said that program’s longtime director, Ellen Wormser.
Ready access to baby and parent necessities allows families to focus on bonding, nurturing, and developmental milestones, key components of healthy child development, according to the organizations’ press release announcing the community shower.