FORT BRAGG, N.C. – “It takes a village to raise a child,” an old saying that stays true in today’s society. Families need support groups, and they need to know that there are people in their ‘village’ – their community – who are there to help them through the good times and the bad.
Fayetteville Cares, Army Community Services and other sponsors showed 1,000 military moms just how much their community supports and honors their sacrifices. The third Boots and Booties event, the largest military baby shower ever, welcomed these expecting mothers for an experience full of fun, food, fellowship, support and information to help them along during and after their pregnancy.
“On each table, a different topic of information was available for the new moms. For example, there was a table about infant massage, which talked about the benefits of massage, the classes offered through the New Parent Support Program, and also an instructor who taught one stroke technique,” said Sue O’Brien, program manager, New Parent Support Program, Fort Bragg, Army Community Services.
Joanne Chavonne, chairman, Fayetteville Cares said the Boots and Booties event first started in 2008 after the 82nd Airborne Division had an enormous redeployment. Chavonne was meeting with a lady at Operation Homefront to talk about how their two organizations could work together to support Fort Bragg.
“They had just gotten a big shipment of baby clothes from Carter’s Baby place. We were talking about the best way to get those baby clothes in the hands of pregnant soldiers and spouses,” said Chavonne. “We thought it would be a great thing to do a baby shower and give them all away.”
Three short months after that conversation, the first Boots and Booties baby shower event was hosted.
“For this particular Boots and Booties event, the 82nd redeployed about 10,000 soldiers in late summer, early fall last year. If you add nine months to that, you come up with June,” said Chavonne. “We planned the date around that redeployment timeframe.”
Over 150 volunteers from across the Fayetteville community supported this event.
“A lot of these women come from all over the country and they’re not in their hometowns for a baby shower, where friends and family they grew up with would usually host their baby shower,” said Kirk Deviere, co-chairman, Fayetteville Cares. “So this is a way the community really gives them the opportunity to have the baby shower they might not have ever had, and meet a lot of new friends in the process.”
One woman in particular was not letting anything get in her way of attending the baby shower – not even her own baby. Even after her she began labor pains shortly after 6 a.m., she was determined to make it to the Boots and Booties event in the afternoon.
“My daughter is entitled to this, and I’m determined to make this the best two hours of my life and then tell my husband to take me to the hospital. I’m doing it for her, for Khyler,” said Taquera Nelson, wife of 1st Lt. Jerryll Nelson, 1st Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division. Khyler is the Nelson’s first child.
The expecting military mothers came to the event, most of them not knowing anyone, and everyone left with at least one new friend and a sense of support from the Fayetteville community.
“One of the things we work on, especially for military families is building their social circles,” said O’Brien. “We really want moms to have friends here and other moms with babies around the same age that they can kind of work together and do stuff together.”
“I really enjoyed all the information they had for us and never expected them to have this much information for us to take away. This is going to be my second child, and I didn’t know until today that crib bumpers are dangerous because an infant can roll into it and suffocate,” said Tiffany King, wife of Spc. James King, 3rd Military Information Support Battalion (Airborne), United States Army Special Operations Command (USASOC).
In addition to the information, fun, food and excitement, the expecting mothers all went home with baby gifts, as well as some bigger ticket items, including a brand new 2013 Chevrolet Cruz donated by Reed Lallier Chevrolet of Fayetteville. The winner of the new car was Jodi Smith of Bunnlevel, N.C., and wife of Master Sgt. Chad Smith, USASOC, whose current vehicle is approaching 100,000 miles.
For more information regarding the Fayetteville Cares program and the services or projects they provide, visit their website at: www.fayettevillecares.org.
The New Parent Support Program is a program offered to Army families to enhance parent and infant attachment, increase knowledge of child development, and provide connections to the support services that allow parents to become nurturing and capable caregivers. The NPSP staff consists of licensed social workers and registered nurses who provide in-home parenting education, support, and resource linkage.
For more information or to register for any classes offered by the NPSP, call 910-396-7951.