Parents and babies find support at charity

Julie Cole, a volunteer at Catholic Charities of Louisville’s Mother-Infant Care Program, held a baby while women attended the program’s support group meeting. The Mother-Infant Care Program receives funding from the Catholic Services Appeal. (Photo Special to The Record)
Julie Cole, a volunteer at Catholic Charities of Louisville’s Mother-Infant Care Program, held a baby while women attended the program’s support group meeting. The Mother-Infant Care Program receives funding from the Catholic Services Appeal. (Photo Special to The Record)

By Jessica Able, Record Staff Writer

When Chandrea Black found out she was pregnant in 2012, her husband had just started a new job and funds were tight.

She turned to Catholic Charities of Louisville’s Mother-Infant Care Program for help and found a welcoming place of love and support, she explained in an interview last week.

The Mother-Infant Care Program is one of dozens of ministries and agencies that receive funding from the Catholic Services Appeal.

Black now supports other women in the Mother-Infant Care Program. She was 41 when she discovered she was pregnant in 2012 and already had a daughter going off to college.

“There was a lot of things I needed to re-learn. Things had changed. There was SIDS to worry about,” she said.

Besides learning about how to care for a newborn again, Black said she found a sisterhood among the women she met at the Mother-Infant Care Program.

“It’s a place to exchange ideas and support each other. We can all relate to one another,” she said.

The Mother-Infant Care Program starts with a six-week educational class in which women and men learn about the stages of pregnancy, what to expect and how to care for a newborn. They also learn about other community services not provided by Catholic Charities, Black said.

In addition to the educational classes, the program aids women and men by referring clients for services not provided by Catholic Charities. They also take walk-in and phone requests for baby formula, clothing and other items.

After completing the class, a mother may select a gift for her baby, such as a crib or car seat.

Women are invited to remain connected to the program by attending a support group, where they are also eligible to receive baby care items weekly. Some of the items include diapers, wipes, bottles and clothing. The program also provides free childcare during the weekly meeting.

Black now serves as a co-leader of the weekly support group.

“It’s a way for me to give back. I was helped in my time of need,” she said. “It’s fulfilling for me.”

Black said she hopes she can provide a positive role model for the women who seek assistance during and after their pregnancies.

She said organizers of the program want the mothers and fathers to know that “somebody cares about you and your unborn child,” she said.

In addition, Black said, mothers and fathers may find “ongoing friendship you can make with each other.”

Cathy Palmer-Ball, a case manager at Catholic Charities, said the agency aids about 1,000 mothers and fathers each year, including about 140 clients who have completed the six-week program.

csa-tag16Palmer-Ball said the program would not be possible without financial support of the Catholic Services Appeal and a host of volunteers.

“Without the CSA contribution and the financial gifts from others, our program could not be possible,” she said. “The women who have come to us have chosen to have their babies.”

Palmer-Ball also noted the program receives support from the Queen’s Daughters, a philanthropic organization. For numerous years, the Queen’s Daughters have provided financial support as well as volunteers. They serve as class presenters and baby sitters and they sort baby clothes donated to the program.

Parishes and schools in the Archdiocese of Louisville regularly host mock “baby showers,” where parishioners and students donate baby items to the program.

Items that are needed on a routine basis include new: diapers, bibs, bottles, bottle brushes, books, baby wash, wipes and clothing. Gift cards to Target, Kmart, Wal-Mart and Kroger are also appreciated.

Palmer-Ball said the program is in “desperate need of TARC tickets for our families to get to and from class.”

Those who wish to volunteer their time as a baby sitter on Tuesday or Thursday from 10 a.m. to noon or who wish to learn more about the program may call 637-9786 and ask for Palmer-Ball or Shalah Bottoms.

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