The Baby Connection

There was 156 women at Sierra Vista Presbyterian Church on March 21 from Oakhurst, Coarsegold, Ahwahnee, Coarsegold, Oakhurst, North Fork, Mariposa, and even Fresno, and they all had something in common - They had either recently given birth, or were looking forward to the arrival of their first bundle of joy.

The women all came together at the highly successful 4th Annual Community Baby Shower, sponsored by Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS). The number of families served at the event was double the number from the previous year.

“We had families lining up at 6:45 a.m. Saturday morning and had 95 families already registered by the time we started the shower at 9 a.m.,” said MOPS Outreach Coordinator Joy Judd. “All of our guests were so patient even though some of them had to wait well over an hour to get into the shower to pick out their items. We love that this event is growing and reaching families all over the mountain area.”

The estimated value of the merchandise given away was close to $10,000.

More than 20 MOPS volunteers, and an additional 15 volunteers from Sierra Vista and Yosemite Lakes Community Church gave out 27 new infant car seats, bouncy chairs, strollers, cribs, high chairs, swings, more than 2,000 pieces of new gently used baby clothes, 77 pairs of shoes, and maternity clothes. The event also provided 6,500 diapers, 14,400 baby wipes, toys for pre-schoolers, nursing and feeding supplies, bedding, and blankets.

Funds for the new car seats were contributed by members of Sierra Vista Presbyterian Church.

Nearly 100 children’s Bibles were provided through a cash donation by Unique Crafters and Women’s Ministry from Yosemite Lakes Community Church.

Many handmade items including bibs, nursing covers, changing pads, and burp cloths were donated by the Tabitha Project of Sierra Vista, Unique Crafters of Yosemite Lakes Community Church.

Soroptimist International of the Sierras contributed $1,000 to the event, which was used to purchase an infant car seat, two play pens, a swing, a baby bouncy seat, a play mat, breast pump, two nursing pillows and blankets, two twin size bedding sets, four boxes of pull-ups, 63 packages of wipes, clothing, and 25 new pairs of shoes.

Mothers were served on a first come, first served basis, and each family was assigned a personal shopper to guide the moms-to-be, mothers and grandmothers through the shopping experience. Each family was allowed a package of wipes, one large item (like a car seat), a package of diapers, 10 items of clothing, and one pair of shoes, plus one blanket and whatever else was needed from the bonus room.

In order that mothers could focus and thoroughly enjoy the shopping and pampering experience, childcare was provided.

As much as the mommies and soon-to-be mommies enjoyed home-made cookies, brownies, muffins, cupcakes, banana nut bread, and the fruit and veggie trays provided, a popular ‘post-shopping’ room at the church brought a little pampering and relaxed smiles to all. Volunteers from the Yosemite Lakes Park Mops group provided more than 75 complimentary neck and shoulder massages, manicures, pedicures, and warm foot soaks and scrubs, while mothers sat back sipping orange juice from wine glasses, and nibbling on white chocolate-covered strawberries.

Leah Shelton of North Fork was fortunate to receive the last infant car seat at the event, in addition to clothing, diapers, and a children’s Bible - all for her first baby expected Aug. 10.

“It’s cool that they are doing this for the community,” Shelton said. “I’m so glad I came today. It helps out a lot.”

Mountain Area organizations, including Helping Hands, Head Start, Soroptimist, First 5, the supporting churches, and lactation consultant Tamara Dent, provided information booths, which circled the outside courtyard of the church.

“This annual event is not only a way for moms of young children and expectant moms to obtain much-needed baby items, but a way to meet new friends and connect with other young mothers,” Joy Judd, coordinator of the event for all four years said. “When a MOPS mom has a baby, food is provided for two weeks by other members. MOPS moms become friends, and their children become friends.”

Judd said all the MOPS volunteers want moms to leave the event feeling equipped, supported, and loved — and with the knowledge that they are not alone during this exciting and sometimes difficult time of life.

“I love being a part of this event as do all of the volunteers who serve at the shower,” Judd said at the end of the busy morning. “The volunteers who served the first year have served every year since. The whole event, from start to finish, is filled with joy. It’s a celebration and it blesses everyone who is involved.”

“We all feel the event has a far bigger impact on the moms who attend,” Judd said. “In this sprawling mountain community it can be difficult to meet and connect with people, which can leave new moms feeling isolated. This event helps moms and families connect with a whole community of moms and other local resources in the area for infants and preschoolers.”

Jessica Chaney of Mariposa agreed with Judd.

She has a two-year-old daughter, Lydia, and is expecting her second daughter, Kianna, June 17.

Chaney received a baby bassinet, baby tub, and blankets for Kianna, and a nice jacket for Lydia. Jessica and her husband Pierce, recently moved back to Mariposa from Kauai, as Pierce is preparing to take over the family business, Chaney Painting, as his father Craig retires after 35 years.

“This was a nice social outing,” Chaney said. “It was really nice to meet and get connected to other moms. You can sometimes feel lonely being a new mom. I got phone numbers of some great moms and I plan to stay in contact with them and do things together with our babies.”

One of those great moms Chaney met was Melissa Courtney, who serves as the coordinator for the Yosemite Lakes Park MOPS. Courtney and club member Kiki King provided the spa services to appreciative mothers.

Judd gave special thanks to the Soroptimist club and members of Sierra Vista Church for their generous donations that helped make the event possible.

“The Soroptimist donation allowed us to get many more large items and other items that we were running low on,” Judd said. “Most items in our large item room are for infants and we were able to purchase items this year specifically geared towards toddlers which allowed us to bless those families that were past the infant stage. Members of Sierra Vista Church made the new infant car seats possible and opened up their church and volunteered their time to make this such an amazing event. We are also thankful for the monetary donation from Yosemite Lakes Community Church Women’s Ministry and Unique Crafters that allowed us to purchase Sierra Vista Night MOPS favorite children’s Bible – The Jesus Storybook Bible.”

MOPS groups are supported by area churches including Sierra Vista Presbyterian Church, Yosemite Lakes Community Church, Oakhurst Evangelical Church, and Christian Fellowship Church in Mariposa.

Judd estimates that more than 350 families have been served in the four years the event has been held. She explained the event is not just about receiving free diapers and baby clothing.

MOPS Meetings

(559) 658-7447

(559) 683-6742

(209) 966-7734

Details: Joy Judd, (559) 642-4181.