As the Babywearing Educator for Boba, I get to spend a lot of quality time with Colorado moms. From teaching Babywearing 101 in the local hospitals to working with non=profits in the Boulder/Denver area - it's THE most heartwarming part of my job. I grew up in Southern California in San Juan Capistrano (near the Mission) and go back to visit quite often. It just so happened that my last trip aligned perfectly with a request from St. Anne's to donate wraps and train their stafff on how to share the practice of babywearing.
St. Anne’s opened in 1908 as a safe refuge for single mothers and has evolved into one of the most highly regarded social service agencies in Southern CA. St. Anne’s offers residential, transitional and permanent supportive housing, family, mental health services, early childhood education and workforce development. All of the women and children they serve have been in the foster system at some point in their lives. Through their safe haven, they are breaking cycles of abuse and neglect. I knew that it was going to be an impressive place going in, but it far exceeded my expectations.
My sister Emily and I arrived at the facility around 10:45 on Friday August 17th and were met at the front by the Director of Donor Relations, Esperanza Evans. She was so grateful that not only did Boba donate 100 wraps, but that we showed up to fully train her staff an some of the young women living on site on how to use them.
Esperanza took us to the education space where 40-50 staff members joined us for training. Mostly women, some men, all very eager to learn and share. Two moms from the program who didn’t have work that day joined us and I was able to do hands on work with both of them.
I talked about the benefits of babyweaing and together we discussed the importance of these mothers bonding with their babies and how profoundly impactful it is. Especially considering how many of them are so freshly on the other side of trauma and are in a state of disassociation. This not only is life saving for these babies, but for the moms too. It really brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it.
After the hour training Esperanza was kind enough to take my sister and I on a full tour of the facility. First we visited the early childcare facility. A safe space for education, expression and providing basic necessities. For many, this is the first time they are experiencing regular healthy meals, care and above all: consistency. My sister being a special education teacher was thrilled to be there and was asking so many questions – it was quite special sharing that experience with her.
Afterwards she took us to see a typical apartment that these women and babies stay in while they’re at St. Anne’s. There are strict rules when they live there: no guests, no alcohol or drugs, rent is due every month, they have to be working and or in school. The apartment was very nice and simple. What struck me when I was in there was how peaceful the whole building was. You could hear some pots clinking, some kids playing, and light chatter but there was so much peace. Esperanza said, for most of these women, they’ve never had a safe space to call their own and because there are no guests allowed, it’s the first time they’ve felt safe enough to exhale and exist. Boundaries like they’ve never known. Peace. Another part of this program that really touched me was, a percentage of their income goes toward rent while they live there and when they are ready to transition on and leave St. Anne’s, all of the money that went to rent is given back to them in a savings account so that they can start their lives with their babies. Victory.
So now, all of the mamas with little ones that are living at St. Anne’s are not only breaking the cycle of abuse, neglect and trauma with their babies, they’re also WEARING THEM! Bonding with them, creating trust, empathy and connection.
THAT is why we do what we do.