The Goshen Church fellowship hall was transformed into a space adorned with pink and blue balloons, as mothers-to-be visited various stations, greeted by medical and other professionals providing helpful information.
The free community baby shower, put on by the Goshen Church on Nov. 18, gave families living in and near the impoverished South Chicago community a chance to access maternal and health services, support and education they may have otherwise lacked.
According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, Chicago has one of the highest rates of infant mortality in the U.S., and there are significant racial and ethnic disparities. Non-Hispanic Black infants have an infant mortality rate this is three times higher than non-Hispanic white infants.
Organizers and church elders, Lorian Willis and Tonnie Young-Hayes, said that, while it was important to give the expectant mothers the tools to have a healthy pregnancy and delivery, they also wanted the event to be fun. Stations included a professional photographer; blood pressure check; information on prenatal, doula and dental care; along with games and rewards.
With support from Hinsdale Church and individual donations, Goshen distributed over 1,000 diapers, lotions, soaps, baby wipes, clothes, diaper bags, formula and other courtesy gifts to 100 attendees. Anelle Willis, one of the attendees who is due in December, said she was grateful because she needed the help.
During the event, senior pastor Gordon Fraser and associate pastor Casey Adams held some of the babies and offered a prayer of blessing over each of the expectant mothers. “Not only do we want to serve the physical needs of the community but also the spiritual needs,” Fraser said afterwards.