At this year's first AECDC/State Farm bi-lingual car safety class held on April 30, 31 young families received a free, new car seat after participating in a two hour workshop, given by Cuqui Rivera, certified car seat safety trainer.
With the generous support of the State Farm Foundation and the Rutgers Community Health Foundation, the class was created by the Bebe BEST Program (Baby Essentials for Safety and Trust) of the AECDC. This is the third year of car seat classes, which continue to be supported by State Farm.
In addition to the 31 mothers, including several homeless moms and ones recovering from domestic violence, five fathers also attended. There were volunteers from AECDC's Board, Rutgers University, the NJ Youth Job Corp, police from Perth Amboy's Community Special Unit, and nurse/caseworkers from the Central Jersey Family Health Consortium.
As part of the presentation, parents did a pre- and post-test to show gains in knowledge, had dinner, which included a sheet cake donated by a former client, who now has her own shop, and received “Welcome Baby Bags,” colorful messengers bags with a parent-baby book in Spanish or English, and a hand-knitted baby hat. These were donated by an AECDC Board member. When needed, the bags also included diapers and wipees.
One highlight of the event was the Perth Amboy police officers' (who are also certified car seat safety trainers) discussion on the importance of new car seats, not those available at garage sales or flea markets, because any damage is invisible. Also, they recommended and showed parents how to register their new car seat so that if there are any recalls, they will be notified.
It was a bonus having these uniformed police officers offer positive interactions with mostly minority parents at this time when police and community relations around the country are sensitive.
Clients and volunteers seemed to enjoy and appreciate the event, as shown in an e-mail from one of the Family Consortium's caseworkers:
Good Afternoon Norka;
I hope this message finds you well! I wanted to take out the time to say thank you for inviting Central Jersey Family Health Consortium to the Bebe BEST Car Seat Workshop ... and for extending your helping hand towards the Improving Pregnancy Initiative Program and our clients. (The car seat workshop) was very well organized; everyone was very skilled at handling logistics. … and lined up the resources for a very successful workshop. Norka, You and AECDC are very kind-spirited and I can attest you will continue offering your help to others, which is an incredible gesture of you!
On April 25, 2015, Norka Torres, Program Director of the CDC, participated in Rutgers Day, a community wide event attended by thousands of people across the three campuses of the University. The day, which provides educational, interactive and fun activities, is free and open to the public. Norka had a table on the College Avenue Campus that she shared with the New Brunswick Police Domestic Violence Respond Team. She serves as a volunteer with that organization and has training in that field so she can best assist clients who are dealing with domestic violence. During her six hour stint, she handed out flyers from the CDC that gave information about our programs and about how to hold a diaper/clothing drive. By her presence there, the AECDC was able to inform students, parents, and the community about our work and about ways to volunteer with us. Someone was so impressed that they even gave us a monetary donation!
On May 5, 2015, the AECDC joined St. Peter’s University Hospital’s Health Fair in Buccleuch Park in New Brunswick, which is located across from the hospital. The theme of the fair, “just for the health of it”, celebrated Cinco de Mayo. The hospital introduced its current and new programs to those who attended. The CDC table was shared with the Police Domestic Violence Response Team as well as the Central Jersey Family Health Care Consortium. We were able to provide information about our services as well as counsel people about resources.
The Andersen Corporate Foundation has been a long-time supporter of the AECDC and they have now given the AECDC a grant for $20,000 for the 2015 year. The Andersen Corporate Foundation was established in 1941 with the mission “to better people’s lives and strengthen communities focusing primarily where Andersen employees live and work.” Since then, the foundation has donated more than $54 million to worthy causes. Silverline Windows and Doors in North Brunswick is the local Andersen Company division that supports our grant applications to the Andersen Foundation.
Chris Lawrence presents $20,000 check from the Andersen Corporate Foundation to Deborah Cherniss, AECDC Volunteer Grantwriter, to help support free community
services in Middlesex County, NJ.
For 2015, State Farm Insurance has provided $20,000 to fund our C-CARS program: Children's Car And Road Safety, which is part of our BeBe B.E.S.T program.
Last year, with an $18,000 grant, over 100 new parents attended safety education classes, available in both Spanish and English. At the end of the sessions each parent received a free, new car seat to bring their babies home safely from the hospital.