Once upon a time (or 3am on a February morning while feeding my newborn daughter), I was up reading Facebook. I came across a post from a woman named Anna about a group she had started. I don’t know if it was the postpartum hormones, lack of sleep or how well it was written, but I started crying. It was an amazing post about a local woman who came to the aid of a complete stranger by collecting baby items from families in the area. I was sucked into her story...the willingness to help strangers, the gratitude of the mom, all of it. I followed the link to the It Takes a Village, Baby website and read more. By the time I got done, I knew I needed to help.
Finding balance has always been important to me. I want my four children to live with the desire to help those around us, especially during times of need. I was raised in a house that didn’t have much, by a single mom who had to work long hours to cover our basic needs. There were times where we would find the electricity off or would eat bowl after bowl of cereal because that is what was on sale. I didn’t know what it felt like to have the latest and greatest, heck we didn’t have a TV until I was in high school! My children have never experienced this. They have never wanted for anything thanks to good jobs and generous grandparents. And this is where I struggle...how do I balance this entitled way of life and ground them a little? How do I get them to realize how fortunate they are?
I walked into my first Village meeting with my 6-week-old baby and immediately felt at home. Here was a group of women that "get it." We all came from different walks of life to work on a common goal…to provide items so NO family has to worry about the basic needs for their children. We are truly a village, working together to provide all our children with the best lives we can.
A few months later, after serving as a drop point and helping at a few events, I did my first drop to a mom. She was due in a few short weeks and had nothing for her new baby. I loaded my minivan up with as much as I could, packed my young daughter and son in the car and headed out. As I drove to the location I started to get nervous. What if I forgot something? What if I said the wrong thing?
When I arrived at the house the young mom greeted me and immediately gave me a hug. I think we were both relieved. My son climbed out of the car and started helping as best a 3-year-old could. We brought in a swing, bassinet, a bathtub and then my baby daughter started crying. Before I could do anything about it, I watched as the mom unbuckled my daughter from the car seat to hold her while I unloaded the rest of the clothing and diapers. The young woman asked me new mom questions about sleep, feeding, bathing, etc. As our drop was done, we hugged and I headed out. I left feeling so happy, not only that I was able to help this family, but how beautiful it was that while I was aiding this mom, in turn she was aiding me.
The Village continues to grow and has challenged me to grow not only as a person but as a mom. My children, ranging in ages from 11 years old to 9 months, have all joined me to drop off donations, sort clothes, pick up items, whatever we need. At first they didn’t understand why I was spending my time running around Loudoun County and beyond helping strangers. But they have all now seen the grateful expressions and received hugs. They have become a part of the Village and it has become a part of them.