By Jon Johnson
SAFFORD – The saying goes it takes a village to raise a child, and there were plenty of organizations and individuals on hand at the fourth annual Community Baby Shower at the Safford City-Graham County Library on Friday.
Library Director Leanne McElroy greeted attendees as they walked in the door and handed them a gift bag full of goodies. In addition to the gift bag, McElroy also drew raffle names throughout the event for other prizes donated by sponsors. She said the baby shower was well-attended despite the windy weather.
“It’s one of my favorite events,” she said. “We have everyone from first time moms who are really nervous and maybe just found out they are pregnant to grandparents who are taking care of grand babies and want to know all about it . . . If you missed it this year, put it on your calendar, it will be end of next March.”
The event is sponsored by First Things First, which is a state-wide organization focused on early childhood development and is funded by a 80-cent per pack tax on tobacco products that was passed by Arizona voters Nov. 7, 2006. It is the state’s only publicly-funded source solely dedicated to early childhood.
Several organizations relating to childcare were on hand for the event, including the Safford Lions Club, which provided infant eye screening, The Gila Valley Clinic, Rex OBGYN Women’s Health Care, which now offers midwife services, Dolly Parton Imagination Library, which gives books to children, the Mt. Graham Regional Medical Center and a representative from “the nurtured nest”, which offers doula services for labor and postpartum as well as being a placenta encapsulation specialist. Placenta encapsulation involves formulating the placenta into a pill women can ingest.
All expectant parents and families or caregivers of babies less than a year old were welcome at the event, which featured exhibits with people skilled in answering common questions about pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, nutrition and parenting.
Mt. Graham High School’s parenting class was on hand with one student mother, three expecting student mothers, and one student father and one expecting student father. Class director Laura Bernal, who also does culinary studies at the school and owns and operates the Pima Children’s Museum, said she felt her students learned a lot of good information on caring for their babies.
“It’s a great resource for the community,” Bernal said. “It’s lots of fun.”
Two of the students, freshman Andy Ordaz and senior Deanna Palma, have a 4-month-old baby, Milania Marquel Palma. They said the information offered at the event was eye-opening.
“I learned to check Milania’s immunizations online,” Palma said.
Sophomore Alexa Maynes said she learned the importance reading to her forthcoming baby will be for its early development, while senior Shanelle Rivera said she learned how to place her forthcoming baby into a Moby baby wrap to keep the infant warm and cared for while freeing the users hands to accomplish other goals while carrying an infant.