Michigan State University Extension - Welcome Newborns, Recipient

Over 15 years ago, a severely abused baby was brought into the emergency room at a Delta County hospital in Northern Michigan. The baby died as a result of the trauma it endured. The doctors and nurses on call decided that something had to be done to help the new parents of their community. Together, along with the Community Foundation of Delta County and Michigan State University Extension of Delta County, they created a new nonprofit organization and called it Welcome Newborns.

That was 1996. Now, many years later, the same doctors and nurses who initiated the program are still directing the Welcome Newborns executive committee. Other health care providers at the hospital as well as other members of the community have since joined, all of whom form a "collaborative effort to provide Delta County parents of newborns with information about child development and community resources."

The Welcome Newborns program provides a great deal of useful information relating to child abuse and neglect as well as preventative information on Shaken Baby Syndrome and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). To reduce SIDS, Welcome Newborns provides new parents with information on safe sleep environments and gives new parents a premium wearable blanket called a HALO Sleep Sack. The Sleep Sack replaces loose blankets in the crib that can cover the baby's face and interfere with breathing.

Lannie Berg has been Welcome Newborn's Coordinator for the last eight years. She explains the diversity of services offered as a part of Welcome Newborn's mission, one of which is a free educational tote bag. "Tote bags are distributed to parents at the 32nd week of pregnancy. Inside, there is information on parenting, child development and bath safety." The bath safety element of the educational tote includes a baby bath thermometer courtesy of the 4imprint® one by one® program. Because a baby's skin is so much thinner than adult skin, it's that much more sensitive. The thermometer, Lannie remarks, "is a wonderful addition." The baby bath thermometer is distributed with the tote well before baby's birth in an effort to give parents an opportunity to read and review before the baby's arrival.

Welcome Newborn's service also includes a home visit by an organization member. That way, if moms and dads are unsure about something, someone is there to walk them through their questions. Additionally, parenting newsletters are sent out each month during baby's first year and every other month until they reach age five. Altogether, tote bags, home visits and newsletters reach a total of approximately 960 Delta County families each year.

What with so many people and organizations struggling to support themselves from the same sources, it hasn't been easy. When Lannie found 4imprint®'s one by one® charitable giveaway program, she was thrilled to apply, but even more excited when she learned the Welcome Newborns would receive the grant. "I knew that baby bath thermometers would be an important part of it all!" she said. From just-the-right-temperature bath water to kindergarten readiness, Welcome Newborns is there for Delta County's young parents and newest citizens.