Raising the Valley throws a community baby shower

Jun 15, 2023

All expectant families are encouraged to join Raising the Valley for their second Community Baby Shower on Saturday, June 24 from 10 am to 12 pm at Runnells Hall in Chocorua.

There will be cake, food, and other refreshments, a free baby boutique, family photos, and door prizes. Meet local nonprofits who offer support to families of young children, and local pediatric healthcare providers.

Raising the Valley is a coalition effort to support families of young children in Mount Washington Valley. They wanted to make sure every family bringing a new child into our community feels welcomed and celebrated, and has the support and resources they need. So last fall, they threw a community baby shower for every expectant family in the area. Now, 9 months later, they’re doing it again, to welcome the next group of new members of our community.

Cathy Livingston, director of the Family Connections Resource Center at Children Unlimited, is also the coordinator for Raising the Valley. She said, “"We are excited to host another Community Baby Shower, building off of the success of the first one. I was amazed when we opened the doors last year and saw a line had already formed. Cheryl and I greeted everyone as they came in and you could feel the excitement of the families. So many great connections were made and the atmosphere was so celebratory, what a wonderful way to say "Welcome to your community!"

She explained the original idea for the event: “We wanted to be able to give every expectant family that sense of belonging. Our goal is not only to welcome families, but to connect them with one another and provide a one-stop-shop of our community’s resources. You think of a new parent or someone who’s just moved to the community, and how overwhelming it can be to try to meet people or find a medical provider or childcare. We want this party to help them to feel like, oh, I belong here!”

Cheryl Frankowski, care coordinator at White Mountain Community Health Center, said that the baby shower is for “any people expecting a baby, and their families! Adoptive families and foster families all are welcome. And you can absolutely bring your kids of any age along, and all families are welcome.”

She added, “A big component of it is normalizing accessing resources. How do we remove some of the stigma or barriers that prevent people from accessing resources?”

Livingston agreed, “The goal is to make it as normal as a breastfeeding class or a childbirth class, those are things that most women get referred to, and there’s no real stigma. But there are a lot of other things that families can access. These things are for everyone. It should be like, I want to read a book, so I’m going to the library. We really want anyone expecting a baby to know about these things. It’s open for everyone. Here we are.”

Local nonprofits and companies attending include White Mountain Community Health Center, Children Unlimited, Granite VNA Healthy Families, Northern Human Services Early Supports and Services, Health Market Connect, UNH Extension Nutrition Connections, WIC Goodwin Community Health, Diaper Depot, Headstart, Childcare Aware, Conway Public Library, DHHS Maternal and Child Health, Carroll County Coalition for Public Health, Kiwanis, Wellsense, and Acceleron.

Healthcare providers will also be at the baby shower to meet new parents. Frankowski said, “Connecting new parents to pediatric providers is also an important part of this event. When I had my kids I literally had to make appointments with each pediatric provider to pick one. So the idea that they’re all going to be there is really exciting. You can meet them in a casual environment with no obligation, have a conversation and see who you feel comfortable with.”

Healthcare providers expected include Family Nurse Practitioner Josie Lamb, APRN, Physician Assistant Lisa Cushing, PA, Dental Hygienist Amy Stoddard, RDH, from White Mountain Community Health Center, as well as providers from Memorial Hospital and Huggins Hospital.

Raising the Valley plans to repeat the Community Baby Shower every nine months, rotating locations. For families who can’t make it to the baby shower, or who need help later, they encourage them to reach out to the participating organizations to get support. The Diaper Depot is always available to parents who are short on diapers at the Community Health Center, Tri-County CAP, and Ossipee Concerned Citizens Childcare Center.

Livingston said the baby shower is “celebrating who we are and what we have, who we are as a community, how we can help each other. It’s very hopeful and helpful. I think it’s a shift in the way of thinking: how can we provide the best we can for our families in a way that they feel heard, and want to be a part of it too. It’s a collaboration, not groups talking at you. We’re all together, eating together and playing games. This is something we’re all doing together.”

Frankowski agreed, “It’s going to be nice for community members to see, that wow, all of these organizations have an interest in me and my family. We’re very fortunate, we live in a community that is very generous and we want people to feel like they belong here.”

For more information, contact Cheryl Frankowski at (603) 447-8900 x313 or cfrankowski@whitemountainhealth.org, or Cathy Livingston at (603) 901-3053 or clivingston@childrenunlimitedinc.org.