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  • Gwenell Hall, MPA

Program Spotlight: Baby Basics

“…and a little a child shall lead them.” (Isaiah 11:6)

When I think of the Baby Basics ministry, I am inspired by this verse from the Bible. The innocence of an infant who needs protection, nurturing, guidance, and most importantly Love.

I met Mary Ann Gilbert of St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church while serving as Case Manager for the Winter Park campus of the Christian Service Center in February 2008. Mrs. Gilbert called and scheduled a meeting at our location in St. John’s Lutheran Church. In walked this petite, red-headed, soft spoken angel that illuminated compassion and Love. Mrs. Gilbert provided an overview of what the Baby Basics ministry does for the communities in the Winter Park, Eatonville, and Maitland areas, and I responded with excitement and anticipation of what the ministry could achieve for each family.

Mrs. Gilbert explained that this ministry would be a partnership between St. Margaret Mary and the CSC. My responsibility would be to enroll and complete an assessment of needs for the families that are referred to this ministry. St. Margaret Mary would continue to purchase the diapers and distribute them bi-weekly at their own church. Also, the initial distribution would include a Parrish nurse who would provide information, referrals, and a general overview of infants’ health. The Parrish Nurse would remind and encourage parents about important dates for immunizations and newborn doctor’s visits.

Throughout our partnership, Mrs. Gilbert and I have developed a friendship and mutual respect. Mrs. Gilbert noticed other attributes that would enhance the partnership. I became a member of another ministry, Bridging the Color Divide. I was able speak about existing barriers, which could be a catalyst to bring communities together for a common cause.

This holistic approach to services is the first step to change families’ lives. Once Mrs. Gilbert retired, I received a phone call from Deacon Scott Lindeman in asking if the CSC would be willing to take over distribution, inventory, and daily operations of the Baby Basics ministry. I was honored that St. Margaret Mary had the confidence to pass the torch.

A wonderful partnership also came into fruition with the Winter Park Housing Authority. Ms. Shaniqua Law, the Manager of the ROSS program, was excited about the coordination of services for the residents of the Meadows. At that time, over 50% of the parents in the Baby Basics Diaper Program resided in this community. One of the missing pieces, which I believe was important to the Baby Basics ministry, was recruiting a nurse. Our efforts were not fruitless, and Ms. Nicole Bruce from Healthy Start Coalition of Orange County joined our efforts, providing a comprehensive approach to services.

A holistic approach to ministry with trust, accountability, and planning will result in forward movements for the communities in which we serve.

Thank you for the opportunity to share this journey with you.

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