There are few things more daunting than becoming a new parent. Now imagine doing so without the ability to provide for your newborn's basic needs. That is the focus of this "Pay It Forward."
Do you remember at any point during those first few months of your child's life where you went: "Oh my, what have I done?" To say having a new baby at home is overwhelming is an understatement.
But if you are lucky, you had the people and the things to help get you through.
Well, one mother we met was so grateful to her network that she decided to provide one for those who don't have one.
Nothing brings Rosibel Portillo more joy than her 4-month-old daughter Jayleen. And while loving her is easy, as a single mom, caring for her admittedly can be a struggle.
"It's hard," she told us. "It's really hard."
She continued, "When you see couples happy with their kids, you're like, ‘Why can't the dad be around? But I guess things can't be like that always."
And unfortunately, Portillo is right.
"My case load is about 90 percent young women," said Erica Garcia. "Teen moms, I want to say right now, I am working with about 10 to 15."
As part of the non-profit group, Identity, Garcia works with at-risk youth in the Latino community. She has helped Portillo's life in many ways. But when she found out the 22-year-old was pregnant, she felt the need to help her newborn too. And she knew just who to call.
At Baby's Bounty of Montgomery County, they truly believe every baby deserves a good start.
"Those first six months are critical," said Baby's Bounty Montgomery County Executive Director Jesica Roman. "They need safe places to sleep. They need to be cared for. They need to be properly clothed. They need the proper nutrition. And if you are in an environment or a situation where you can't provide that, it's detrimental."
After experiencing the wonder and fear of becoming a mom herself, Roman had an urge to pay it forward. Discovering no real program existed locally for babies born into disadvantaged situations, she brought a program from the west coast to Maryland.
She has a staff of three, including herself -- all volunteers.
There is Anna Perrone who sorts, organizes and logs all the donations.
"Every time that I pick up any one item, it just makes me very happy," she said. "It makes my heart happy to know there's a baby in need who is going to have what he or she need to have a good start."
The other volunteer is Roman's mother, Carolyn Findley. She packs the bundles.
And then there are people like Teresa Zigler. She comes from West Virginia to deliver hand knit blankets to be included in the bundles.
"We always say, ‘Made with love one stitch at a time,'" said Zigler. "And we don't have to know the babies. Just knowing that it's going somewhere that it's needed is good enough for us."
In their first year, Baby's Bounty helped 100 newborns in need. In the first quarter of the second year, they helped another 100 babies.
Bundles are packed based on referrals from more than 30 social service agencies. The caseworkers themselves come to pick up the goods.
"Everything I pick up here, I take it straight to the family's home, and it's an unexpected surprise, an unexpected gift for the newborn in the family, so definitely the mothers are very grateful," said Rosario Grande of Children's Protective Services in Montgomery County.
Mothers like Portillo, thanks to Baby's Bounty, got the essentials Jayleen needed.
"I didn't have playpen," said Portillo. "They helped me with that. They helped me with a baby bath."
These are basic necessities she would have never had, but because she does, she is better able to focus on providing her daughter with the things only a mother can.
"I would like to be a mom that would have everything for them, everything they need and always be there for them," Portillo told us. "Because I don't have that type of mom."
Baby's Bounty has three programs:
- $50 donation supports their special cargo program providing car seats
- $75 donation supports their Good Night, Sleep Tight program which provides a pack 'n Play
- $100 donation purchases a diaper bag full of everything a newborn needs: blankets, bottles, diapers, pacifiers, etc.
You can also donate the items themselves. They have a wish list on their website at http://babysbounty.org/montgomery-county/
And remember, if you know someone who is paying it forward, FOX 5 wants to know! You can make nominations to highlight that special someone on our Pay It Forward page.