By Kate Weldon LeBlanc and Erica Streit-Kaplan
On October 7, programs affiliated with Combined Jewish Philanthropies (CJP) came together at the Biggest Baby Shower Boston. This event, open to all new and expectant parents, was like a trade show for families with a laid-back atmosphere like a cocktail party (but they were "mocktails"). As a sponsor, CJP was given a large display area, which they kindly opened up to several partners who work with families with babies and young children including the Center for Early Relationship Support® of JF&CS, Parenting Through a Jewish Lens, Jewish Community Centers of Greater Boston, InterfaithFamily/Boston, Jewish Boston, One Happy Camper, Discover Day School, and PJ Library.
Every corner of the Back Bay Events Center was filled with innovative (some looked almost space age) baby products, samples, and goodies. Our children are still pretty young but we said many times, "That didn't exist when my baby was born!" It seemed enjoyable and helpful for the parents to see and try out these various items. We were thrilled to share many community resources available for families in Greater Boston and we were all grateful for the opportunity to provide information to so many families. Kate was also included in one of the event's seminars, "Navigating Boston as a New Mom," with Erika Tarantal, Morning Anchor on WCVB-Boston and moderator Audrey McClelland from Mom Generations.
In an act of pure genius (we can say this as it was not our idea), our table also handed out frozen challah starters, which included instructions on how to braid and bake them (and even how to turn them into French toast if desired). It was so nice to see the excited reactions by parents of diverse faiths who were all eager to warm their homes and eat freshly baked challah. We ran out!
One of our favorite moments of the night was when a mother of a five-month-old boy came over to our table and exclaimed "I'm SO glad you're here! You're my favorite booth." She talked about wanting to connect more to the Jewish community now that she is a parent, and we gladly answered her questions and offered her resources.
Finally, we'd be remiss if we didn't mention the luck of our proximity to the delicious samples from Five Bites cupcakes (which drove even more traffic to our area of the exhibit hall). However, the biggest highlight was learning about each other's programs and being together.
Kate Weldon LeBlanc has been the Associate Director of the JF&CS Center for Early Relationship Support since August of 2009. Kate is passionate about child and family issues, particularly on building communities of support for parents. Prior to her arrival at JF&CS, she spent nearly ten years working in the departments of Child Advocacy and Government Relations at Children's Hospital Boston. She holds a BSW from Skidmore College and a MPA from UMass Boston.
Erica Streit-Kaplan is Coordinator of Parenting Through a Jewish Lens at Hebrew College. Erica is delighted to help parents connect with the Jewish community and make decisions that are right for their families. Before joining Hebrew College, Erica spent more than a decade working at the intersection of social work and public health with a focus on child injury prevention and health promotion. She holds a BA from Douglass College, Rutgers University, and MSW and MPH degrees from Boston University.