If you’ve ever been a new parent you know that taking care of your baby is a top priority. You looked forward to baby showers and using all those new items to make life for your little one as safe and comfortable as possible. You wash them all, paint and set-up a nursery, and make the perfect “nest” for your little one before they are born. The new mothers who seek our Caring Network services feel exactly the same way . . . but they seldom have friends and family who throw a baby shower for them and setting up the perfect, freshly-painted and color-coordinated nursery is an unreachable dream.
According to the 2011 Kids Count in Michigan, the number of families in Kalamazoo County who are in poverty is increasing. The young mothers who seek Caring Network services are among the poorest of these, with incomes significantly below the poverty level. Most are single (94%), eligible for Medicaid (83%), under the age of 20 (51%), and have no high school diploma (49%). To complicate the issue, these young women are undergoing major life changes, learning how to care for newborn infants, and dealing with the challenges having a baby invariably lends to employment and education.
In the midst of so many challenges, who would think that a brand new baby blanket, made with love, could be such an important thing? Yet, year after year and mother after mother, we have seen that it is! For the fifth year in a row, 5th grade students at St. Augustine school took the time to collect donated materials and turn them into beautiful, soft, and warm blankets. These blankets — made with such love — will soon surround and comfort newborn babies at Caring Network. New mothers will have some tangible way to wrap their babies with love and start on the path to creating a safe and healthy family. It may seem like “just a blanket,” but in a very real way these amazing schoolchildren are changing lives. They are not just giving blankets, they are giving love, and we applaud and thank them for their generosity.
We can do no great things, only small things with great love.Mother Teresa