Soror­ity chap­ter of­fers sup­port for new par­ents

Lo­cal soror­ity chap­ter seeks com­mu­nity sup­port for young moms

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By TIF­FANY WAT­SON twat­son@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @Tif­fIndyNews

A lo­cal soror­ity chap­ter cre­ated a “one-stop shop” event for young moms to have di­rect ac­cess to com­mu­nity re­sources for fam­i­lies. On Feb. 4, the Eta Omi­cron Sigma Chap­ter of Sigma Gamma Rho Soror­ity part­nered with the Charles County Pub­lic Li­brary to hold its an­nual “Project CRA­DLE Care” event at the Wal­dorf West li­brary branch.

Renee Duck­ett, com­mit­tee chair of Project CRA­DLE Care, said the pro­gram is geared to­wards young women and chil­dren from birth to tod­dlers by bring­ing or­ga­ni­za­tions to­gether to pro­vide in­for­ma­tion. She said the chap­ter is mak­ing a uni­fied ef­fort to pour back into lo­cal chil­dren and up­lift fam­i­lies in the com­mu­nity.

“The event has been go­ing on for four years — orig­i­nally in­tended to be a one-stop shop to pull in the pub­lic,” said Tonya Allen-Shaw, Sigma Gamma Rho Eta Omi­cron Sigma chap­ter pres­i­dent. “Moms, grand­moth­ers and sin­gle dads who are try­ing to do what’s right can also ben­e­fit from this pro­gram. It’s re­source over­load and it’s all for free.”

“This year, un­for­tu­nately, we did not have a lot of give­aways, but we did have a lot of in­for­ma­tion to pass out,” Duck­ett said.

Project CRA­DLE Care is a pre­na­tal ed­u­ca­tion and re­source pro­gram that seeks to im­prove preg­nancy out­comes in high-risk com­mu­ni­ties by in­creas­ing the num­ber of women who re­ceive ad­e­quate pre­na­tal ed­u­ca­tion and to bet­ter un­der­stand proper in­fant care and child de­vel­op­ment.

The goal of the project is to pro­vide a wealth of in­for­ma­tion, re­sources and tools for women of child­bear­ing age to help en­sure they have a healthy baby. The pro­gram is done in con­junc­tion with the or­ga­niza- tion’s na­tional part­ner, the March of Dimes.

Duck­ett planned for the event to in­clude hospi­tals, man­aged care or­ga­ni­za­tions, com­mu­nity-based pre­na­tal care providers and spe­cial guest speak­ers. This year the or­ga­ni­za­tion had ta­bles of in­forma- tion from the Cather­ine Foun­da­tion, Mary­land WIC and the South­ern Mary­land ABC (At­tach­ment Biobe­hav­ioral Catch-Up) Pro­gram.

Both or­ga­ni­za­tion mem­bers and at­ten­dees were look­ing for­ward to ad­di­tional re­sources like car seat safety in­stall­ments, lo­cal school in­for­ma­tion, a money/ ed­u­ca­tion speaker and other pro­grams who did not at­tend. But that did not stop many fam­i­lies from grab­bing in­for­ma­tion to take home.

“I see young moms at work ev­ery day and just the strug­gle — some­times be­cause of a lack of fam­ily sup­port or not know­ing who to turn to in the com­mu­nity — that’s heart­break­ing,” Allen-Shaw said. “It’s a lit­tle dis­ap­point­ing that we don’t have sup­port from the lo­cal or­ga­ni­za­tions be­cause I think [the pro­gram] could be big­ger, but I’m glad that those who are par­tic­i­pat­ing are still here.”

“I work with a group of peo­ple pro­fes­sion­ally where a lot of times kids and par­ents don’t know re­sources [are] avail­able to them — whether it’s for healthy liv­ing and fam­ily de­ci­sions. Be­ing able to bring out com­mu­nity part­ners is im­por­tant be­cause peo­ple of color don’t know about re­sources un­less you bring it to them,” said Natalie Ben­nett, Sigma Gamma Rho Eta Omi­cron Sigma fi­nan­cial sec­re­tary and pub­lic re­la­tions. “When you know you have a free re­source to get back on your feet or help you find food avail­able — fruits and veg­eta­bles — in your com­mu­nity, then that’s a great thing for any fam­ily.”

Ben­net said 50 or more peo­ple vis­ited Project CRA­DLE Care at the li­brary: moms, dads and grand­par­ents. Re­becca Con­ner, spe­cial ed­uca- tion teacher at West­lake High School, said she picked up some help­ful in­for­ma­tion at the event on Satur­day.

“I learned about classes they have avail­able and I work with teenagers so they do go through preg­nancy and other re­lated cir­cum­stances. I do home and hospi­tal teach­ing, so some of the stu­dents that I have are ac­tu­ally moth­ers. It’s al­ways good to be aware of what’s go­ing on in the com­mu­nity and have this in­for­ma­tion at hand,” Con­ner said.

Ste­fa­nia Bianco, com­mu­nity ed­u­ca­tor par­ent coach of the South­ern Mary­land ABC (At- tach­ment Biobe­hav­ioral Catch-Up) Pro­gram, said she was there to con­nect with the com­mu­nity. Her col­league Ni­cole Wright, a Charles County Depart­ment of Health com­mu­nity health out­reach worker, brought ad­di­tional in­for­ma­tion about “safe sleep for your baby” and sud­den in­fant death pre­ven­tion.

“We re­cently had three in­fant deaths be­tween Oc­to­ber and Novem­ber within the county. That is ac­tu­ally high be­cause we want to have zero, so I am go­ing to doc­tors’ of- fices to dis­trib­ute DVDs that they can watch and un­der­stand why it’s so im­por­tant to put ba­bies on their backs and not on their stom­achs,” Wright said.

Bianco said the pre­vi­ously men­tioned deaths were pre­ventable, so the hand­outs are ex­tremely nec­es­sary in or­der to help in­form young moth­ers that it is safe to have ba­bies sleep on their back.

The Eta Omi­cron Sigma Chap­ter of Sigma Gamma Rho Soror­ity wishes to ex­pand Project CRA­DLE Care to help young moms around the re­gion. The pro­gram needs more lo­cal, re­source-based or­ga­ni­za­tions to help with ob­tain­ing spon­sor­ships and con­tact­ing health­care providers and work­ers who are will­ing to come out to the an­nual event and sup­port young moms with in­for­ma­tion and ad­di­tional re­sources. For more in­for­ma­tion, con­tact the Eta Omi­cron Sigma Chap­ter of Sigma Gamma Rho Soror­ity at 240-416-9665 or info@ eos1922.org.

STAFF PHOTOS BY TIF­FANY WAT­SON

Renee Duck­ett, com­mit­tee chair of Project CRA­DLE Care, hands out in­for­ma­tion about the Cather­ine Foun­da­tion to Wal­dorf res­i­dent Shonda Adams and her daugh­ters Aneya, 5, and Amiyah Adams, 8, last Satur­day at Wal­dorf West Li­brary.

Ste­fa­nia Bianco, com­mu­nity ed­u­ca­tor par­ent coach of the South­ern Mary­land ABC (At­tach­ment Biobe­hav­ioral Catch-Up) Pro­gram, and Ni­cole Wright, Charles County Depart­ment of Health com­mu­nity health out­reach worker, give Zionna Proc­tor, 10, stick­ers and a brochure for stop­ping by their ta­ble.

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