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Community Drive-Thru Baby Shower to be held in Lehigh

By MEGHAN BRADBURY - | Sep 23, 2020


Healthy Start Coalition of SWFL dug deep this year, so they could continue its tradition of holding baby showers for expectant mothers, with its first-ever Community Drive-Thru Baby Shower.

Associate Executive Director Melanie Black Amato said they have hosted showers for years, a service they provide for the Lee, Collier, Hendry and Glades communities.

“The challenge was trying to do this with COVID-19,” she said.

The baby showers had to be temporarily suspended due to the pandemic. Amato said they would have 30 women gather for a shower of educational information, presentations, drawings, lunch and a gift bag full of essential items. The baby shower is a great opportunity to meet high risk pregnant women and talk about what to expect and how to be the best mom they can be, she added.

“We had to cancel our upcoming events because they are definitely high risk with COVID-19. We had to stop the events and anything we had pending,” Amato said, adding that it was something they did not want to give up. “There are so many people in the community in need. First-time moms that have never done it before. High risk moms in general.”

Healthy Start Coalition of SWFL had to be creative, which is why the drive-thru baby shower transpired

The hard part of this year’s baby shower, is not having that interaction with the mothers, Amato said.

“We love to see their faces and talk to them,” she said. “It’s a little bit more challenging in that area.”

The Community Drive-Thru Baby Shower will be held in Lehigh on Thursday, Sept. 24, at the Family Health Center, 3415 Lee Blvd. For those in need of resources can call Healthy Start Coalition of SWFL at 239-425-6920.

“Education and resources are a necessary component when families are expecting. This is already a challenging time for moms-to-be. For many, this means no baby showers, limited resources, very little contact with others and some avoiding stores altogether. By expanding our mission and with the help of community partners such as Southwest Florida Community Foundation, United Way and Zonta, we have the ability to help” Executive Director of Healthy Start Southwest Florida Susan Beauvois said in a prepared statement.

Amato said all moms will be preregistered before the event due to it being limited to the first 50 registrants.

They have dropped off invitations at such locations as OB offices, Healthy Start clients and the Florida Department of Children and Families.

The day of the baby shower, Amato said the mothers will arrive in their vehicles and remain as individuals drop off “mom bags,” which will include diapers, wipes, soap, sleep sacks and blankets, as well as educational material on various topics. There will also be a random drawing for items such as a car seat, or pack and play. 

This year the educational component will be offered virtually through five videos, so moms can tune in when it’s convenient for them out of the comfort of their home. Some of the educational videos will highlight car seat safety and safe sleep.

Amato said the car seat video will show what is best for an infant and child, as well as how to properly install a seat.

As far as safe sleep, she said it is important to share information because historically women like to learn from parents even though it may not be the proper way for a child to sleep. The video will touch upon what is appropriate for safe sleep and what is hazardous for a child. In addition, it will also demonstrate alternatives for a child to sleep in if a crib is not available.

Another portion of the baby shower will include community resources that are available for the mom-to-be, ranging from food banks to assistance in paying for utilities.

Amato said they want to give the mom resources, so after they leave the baby shower it gives them an opportunity to ensure they are safe and healthy.

The bag of goodies will also include information about the resources Healthy Start Coalition of SWFL offers. Connect information is provided, which is a program offered for women who want home visiting services.

“We would evaluate them further to identify what resources are the best fit for them,” Amato said.

Another service is Help Me Grow, which identifies developmental issues a baby might have, as well as contact information once the baby is delivered.

She said the mothers not only have the stress of being pregnant, but perhaps the impact of not having a job because of COVID-19, or not leaving the house because of the virus. In addition, Amato said the hospital is limiting who is coming to visit, limiting the family support.

“Most of them are not having a baby shower. It’s an opportunity for us to recognize them,” she said of having the drive-thru baby shower. “Support them and include education and resources that they can use down the road.”

The goal is to hold the Community Drive-Thru Baby Shower in every county Healthy Start Coalition of SWFL covers.

“Our goal is to hit every county and some different communities within the counties,” Amato said.

The event would not be possible without the help of the organization’s partnering agencies. Healthy Start Coalition of SWFL has partnered with Florida Kid Care, United way, Family Health Centers, Safe Kids of Southwest Florida and Sam’s Club.

We are “so grateful they have stepped up. Everyone is getting drained of resources and funding. It’s great to know that there are other agencies to help in some way,” she said.

Healthy Start Coalition of SWFL began in 1992 with a mission to “ensure every baby has a chance at a healthy start in life because a healthy start can last a lifetime.” The nonprofit’s goal is to “reduce the number of infant deaths and premature births; and improve health and developmental outcomes for young children.” More than 15,000 pregnant women and infants benefited from the services Healthy Start Coalition of SWFL offer last year.

For more information, visit www.healthystartswfl.com.