I may be a dreamer, but I believe every new life that comes into this world should have their physical needs met, AND be surrounded by love and joy and ways to thrive. Not every mother has what they need to provide all of that. Actually, I’d say EVERY mother has some of the things they need, and still needs more… more understanding of the challenges, more emotional support, more resources that let us help our baby thrive. We all thrive best when we care and share together. Some moms just have MUCH LESS, and a little bit of sharing and caring from all of us can make such a big difference. I also believe that it is in the younger years that our children can develop acceptance, empathy and kindness toward others through experiences where they see they can make a difference.
As a parent, We know what it is to feel like we are not enough at times, even if money is not an issue. We know how important it is to reach out for the help we need. But we also know how hard it is to ask. Being part of our little Kindermusik community is a way for families to gather new resources and ideas we can use, and connect with others for support as we tackle this challenging job of parenting well. And we know that even though we still have needs, there are others whose needs are far beyond what we can imagine as they face the challenge of providing for their new family.
Personally, I have a favorite local non-profit orgnaization who shares my passion for giving new life a chance to thrive. It is a small organization meeting a growing need in our community, and is in great need of help. And, I fully trust the leaders to make the best use of any help given.
A friend of mine, Carolyn Espina, started The New Life Center (NLC) in Lakeland to help women and teens through unplanned pregnancies who are in a situation that is at risk (often homeless). The NLC provides many services for their journey. As a trained and experienced Doula, Carolyn guides them to ensure healthy development and delivery. In some cases, she helps with the adoption process. In most situations, she help these women learn to take care of themselves and their baby, learning many life skills as they work toward becoming independent and connected members of our local community.
A few years ago, the NLC was able to acquire a home where some clients can live during their pregnancy and throughout the process of learning to care for their new baby and work toward a better life.
In 2016, the NLC added a local second-hand children’s boutique to their services. The clients have the opportunity to work and develop skills that will help them gain future employment, and are able to earn points to purchase items for their family from the store.
Cool BONUS for us: The New Life Boutique offers quality new and used baby and children’s goods for a great price to families in Polk County. It is really an adorable place to shop ! I highly recommend dropping by to see this colorfully designed shop, talk to these young women working here (along with their adorable babies), and see what the shop has to offer.
2018 NEW Address: 819 North Lake Parker Ave in Lakeland, Florida 33801
Hours: Open 10 am – 5 pm. M- Sat. Closed on Sunday
You can also follow them on Facebook:
The New Life Center Organization – This page shares stories of new babies being born and the positive work these people are accomplishing together.
New Life Boutique – This page shares information about what is available at the boutique, sales events, and more.
Since I first introduced this in the Spring of 2016, MANY in our Kindermusik community have donated so much. Each time I deliver the goods, there is such gratitude that we are continuing to help. Consistent support means so much ! Enjoy this video from Carolyn (the director) and Lauren (now the store manager and a NLC success story) talking about their appreciation for what our Kindermusik families have donated so far.
Please consider the many ways you can support this program as they provide great things and opportunities for these new mamas.
1. Donate directly usable supplies. They are always in need of packages of unopened diapers or wipes, baby food, and household paper goods. These always go directly for use by these young families, and help reduce costs so the available funds can be used for more unique needs.
2. Donate goods to be sold. The boutique provides an opportunity for you to de-clutter your house with stuff that you are no longer using: maternity and baby clothes, accessories, toys, books, and more. The shop includes things for all ages of children. This is also a great opportunity to get your older children (starting around 2 years old) involved in spirit of caring and giving. Check out the ideas and resources below.
3. SHOP at the Baby Boutique. All the profits go towards supporting the women and babies in the program.
4. Donate Money. Currently, they are desparately trying to repair a 15 seat van that will help them transport these families to their doctor appointments, etc. If you can donate directly fo this cause, contact Carolyn, they would be extremely grateful. They also have unique fundraising events about twice a year to help meet their operating costs including housing and more.
5. Donate time. You may have a skill that would be beneficial for the women in the program (such as offering a cooking class), or benefit the organizations goals (such as help with website updates), etc. Their new boutique location has a meeting room in the back where groups can participate in learning experiences. These moms would also be amazingly grateful for things not typically available to them, like photographs of their beautiful pregnancy or new baby, or a haircut and style… I think you get the idea.
Thank you for reading this far, and for your consideration of participating in this opportunity.
Engaging Children in the Giving Spirit
For children who are old enough to understand… here is an idea to help your child be a part of this service. At a time when they are calm and happy, maybe playing with their toys (not after telling them to clean their room), talk with them about other children who don’t have any toys to play with, or maybe just few pieces of worn clothing. Gently ask them how they would feel if they didn’t even have a stuffed animal to cuddle, or a toy to play with. You might encourage them go through a stack of things you may have gathered in advance… things you feel would be good to donate and that they may be willing to give to someone who needs it. These may be things they consider too babyish to play with any more, and that they could believe there is a baby out there who would LOVE it more than anyone.
“How many of these would you like to give to a child who has nothing to cuddle or play with?” Praise them heartily, even if they just choose ONE item. Ask again… “Is there anything else you would like to give?” Remember to be respectful of their choice to keep an item, even if you don’t think they really need it, or want it. Forcing them will not encourage their desire to give from their heart. Perhaps if you ask again later, they may be willing to give more. Sometimes it helps to have some time to think about it. You may be surprised at how much they are willing to give.
The Berenstain Bears Think of Those in Need
Stuff in the closets, stuff in the drawers, stuff in the attic–too much stuff everywhere! Mama Bear convinces the family that cleaning out the house can not only simplify their cluttered lives, but also benefit those who are in need! This is a good book written especially for children to see joy of giving in this manner. It does have Christmas themes in it, but it is a jumping point for many discussions, including that there are people with needs all the time. It is available through the libraries in Lakeland and throughout Polk County. Although you may want to have your own book to read and read again.
You can also watch this video with your children to get started right away. The Berenstain Bears Think of Those in Need
Our combined small efforts can make a big difference.
For our Music Connections families, donations of goods will continue to be accepted at our Kindermusik studio throughout the year. It is easy to pack up unopened packages of diapers that no longer fit, or sealed containers of food we know our child won’t eat. Or toss together some things you know you will benefit these young families and bring it on your way. The hardest part is remembering to put it in the car… and to bring it IN when you arrive. LOL. I can deliver them in bulk to the new store.
Or you can use the address above to find the New LIfe Boutique, especially if you have a load larger than I can handle with my Toyota. Oh, and consider staying for a bit, getting some great deals on things for your family, and maybe even chatting with the ladies who are changing their life around with their child. Your smiles, acceptance, respect and interested conversation can mean as much to them as any sales… even if it seems they feel uncomfortable. Their life experiences have been very different, and these type of interactions may be new for them.
Your children may respond best if THEY are able to deliver the items they choose to give. In our Music Connections studio, there is a special box for them to place their items in and I will personally gush about their giving heart (make sure to call my attention to it please). I am also open to discuss any opportunities you can share that can help our children learn the benefits of a giving heart.
I hope this project resonates with the goals you have for your family. There are no expectations here, and no judgements if you don’t bring anything. Only you know what you can do.