JF&CS News Spring 2015

Welcome BabyWelcoming a baby into your home brings great joy and, for some, a steep learning curve. Hannah* and her spouse had recently moved to Greater Boston and celebrated the birth of their daughter. Like many new moms, Hannah was feeling overwhelmed with the constant demands of her one-month-old.

Luckily, Hannah had signed up for a visit from Welcome Baby!, a JF&CS program that welcomes Jewish and interfaith families into the community. When Ellen, the Welcome Baby! volunteer, arrived at Hannah's home with a tote filled with gifts for the baby and community resource suggestions for the family, she was greeted warmly and ushered inside.

Hannah shared that she had not yet had much of an opportunity to meet other families with babies. As she grew more comfortable in Ellen's warm presence, Hannah told her that she felt isolated and a little anxious as she transitioned into her role as a new mom. Ellen connected her with the Lauren and Mark Rubin Visiting Moms® program offered through the JF&CS Center for Early Relationship Support® and the JF&CS-sponsored new moms support group in her town.

Hannah was soon matched with a Visiting Mom volunteer and began to make friends in a local new moms group. She and her spouse plan to attend a JCC family program with a Passover theme, and she is excited to be part of a new community.

"At the Center for Early Relationship Support (CERS) most programs are home visiting programs," said Laura Gerson, the JF&CS Coordinator of Welcome Baby!. "In addition to being a welcoming resource to the Jewish and interfaith community, the program is also about connecting to the mothering community. That's something we're good at."

Hannah's is just one of many happy stories to emerge from the Welcome Baby! program. Now in its sixth year, Welcome Baby! supports new parents in more than 100 communities in Greater Boston, the North Shore, and Central MA. Clients receive a home visit and a gift tote that includes a $25 Magic Beans coupon, two-year subscription to PJ Library, swaddle blanket, book, high-quality baby toys, community resource guide, invitations to parenting and play groups, and information about local congregations and Jewish family events.

"Welcome Baby! is very accessible. There's nothing that you have to join, buy, or affiliate with. You don't have to belong to a synagogue and you can participate as much as you want to. That's what makes this such a lovely program for families," said Laura.

Supported by trained and supervised volunteers, Welcome Baby! is a partnership between Jewish Family & Children's Service and the Jewish Community Centers of Greater Boston, with generous support from Combined Jewish Philanthropies.

"The Welcome Baby! visit is the entry point. Beyond that, the JCC offers a number of ways to stay involved with the Jewish and interfaith community," said Laura. "It enhances the program by providing many opportunities for families to participate."

With 35 volunteers, the program continues to flourish and expand to new communities. In collaboration with the JCC, the program has added features, including monthly meet-ups at Panera Bread in Porter Square, Cambridge. JCC also offers a wide range of programs – stroller walks, new moms groups, playgroups, drop-ins, parenting workshops, and Jewish holiday family events.

New parents who participate are grateful. After a recent visit, one happy mom said, "I can't thank you enough. The visit and everything else you offer has helped us tremendously."

In 2013 JF&CS was able to expand this program to the Worcester area with generous funding from the Jewish Federation of Central MA. Shalom Baby (as it is called in Central MA), offers the same tote filled with gifts and resources specific to Central MA.

Welcome Baby! is looking for volunteers to conduct one-time visits with a Jewish or interfaith family in Metro North (particularly Arlington, Cambridge, Somerville, and Melrose). For more information, contact Lauren Schleicher, Manager of Volunteer Services at 781-647-JFCS (5327).

*Name changed to protect privacy.

For more information, call 781-647-JFCS (5327) or email your questions via our contact us page.