Inaugural Community Baby Shower Educates Parents

The inaugural baby shower at the Gateway Center celebrated new life and parenthood for new and expecting mothers on Wednesday.

Hosted by the Chautauqua County Department of Health and Human Services Maternal and Infant Program, the baby shower allowed mothers and families to receive education regarding all aspects of pregnancy and infant life. The Maternal and Infant Program provides service to mothers in helping them give their babies a healthy start. Services the program gives to mothers include assistance with insurance, answers to pregnancy questions, shots and assistance in finding a doctor.

Mothers were able to meet with community and health representatives from organizations including WIC, Univera Healthcare, Fidelis Care, Chautauqua Opportunities, Chautauqua County Maternal and Infant Health Program and Teenage Education and Motherhood among others. Participants took part in sessions throughout the day, listening to lectures on a number of topics.

“We have people here talking about breast feeding, healthy homes, immunizations, substance abuse, child development and birth control,” said Cathy Burgess, director of maternal and infant health. “Once they complete the education, they can enter to win drawings. There’s surveys for more drawings if they complete them. Hopefully they’re learning something. Everything’s gone very well in the first year.”

The Teenage Education and Motherhood, which is an educational and parenting program for pregnant students, was on hand at the baby health fair. TEAM, located on 120 W. Third St. in Jamestown, is for young women who want to continue and complete high school. Participants in the program must be between 12-21 years old. Services include education, case management and child care. TEAM also holds events for families, field trips and hosts banquets at the end of year. So far, the program has seen a 100 percent graduation rate, and many are heading to college. Students from Jamestown, Falconer, Panama and other villages have participated in the program.

Project Crossroads was also available at the health fair for participants to check out. The violence education program was created in 1996 with the goal to communicate with the community regarding the prevention of domestic violence. In 2005, Project Crossroads partnered with Family Service of Chautauqua region to strengthen the domestic violence program.

The first community baby shower, which was free to the public, brought between 60 and 70 mothers according to Burgess, including families members who joined to listen to lectures and learn a little bit about the programs available. Before the mothers left, each received a bag of goods and a package of diapers for participating in the shower.

“We have a lot of great agencies here for the clients to ask questions and work with,” Burgess said.

In its first year, Burgess said that the community baby shower will continue every year. The event will continue to educate and aid expecting and new mothers who have questions and are in need of help.