By Matt Hein and Iris Proctor
I love watching Jesus bring people and organizations together to accomplish immeasurably more than they could do on their own. Add in the power of sharing similar values and Jesus can do big things!
St. Luke partners with a number of organizations, including ArborWoman. Back in January, St. Luke was blessed to have Iris Proctor, the executive director of ArborWoman, join us in worship to share the story of ArborWoman and her own story of what Jesus is doing in her life. You can watch that story on St. Luke’s YouTube channel by clicking here (start at 20:35).
There are so many reasons I appreciate the work of ArborWoman, including how well they align with our St. Luke values. Their openness to partnering with other faith-based organizations to support and empower mothers and families across Washtenaw County is found throughout what Iris Proctor writes below:
“ArborWoman believes that every human life has value. Our services and outreach (Counseling, Education, Material Support and Medical Services) are tangible signs of care for our clients and the women within our community. We find that only in relationship can we assess if we BOTH valued the individual and provided value to them.
In midwinter, Adrielle was referred to ArborWoman by a partner agency to receive help for her infant daughter Emma, who was receiving treatment at a nearby hospital. Emma had been in and out of surgery for much of her young life. Having recently fled an unstable family situation, Adrielle needed all the material support we could provide.
ArborWoman came alongside Adrielle and provided her with a layette, a car seat, and in collaboration with our partner Friends In Deed, a Sleep Care Kit (Pack n’ Play, sheets & sleep sack). Soon thereafter baby Emma was discharged from the hospital and Adrielle was able to receive her daughter with new clothing, a warm ride and a safe place to sleep, because she had been connected to ArborWoman.
We normally don’t carry car seats, but a donor insisted “I just know that somebody you touch is going to need this.”
Many other families have received material support through ArborWoman. In 2017 alone, 8,000 individual baby items were distributed in response to over 1,500 individual requests for assistance. Much of this support is offered through the BabyCare Program conducted in partnership with Hope Clinic. High needs items such as diapers, baby food, and formula are available to any family requesting assistance during Hope’s weekly distribution times.
Additionally, the social work team and staff at Hope are attuned to their clients’ lives, and periodically use BabyCare to address the specific needs of families within Washtenaw County. 90% of the items distributed, especially high needs items, are donated by community partners. Did you know that the two biggest programs that assist low-income mothers, SNAP (food stamps) and WIC, don’t cover diapers?
ArborWoman also provides material support to participants of its SleepCare classes. A layette bag filled with newborn essentials including clothing, diapers, blankets, hygienic items and toys, is given to every participant (parents of multiples receive one per child). Filled with new or (very) gently used items donated by the community. Each layette is topped with a handmade blanket sewn by the St. Thomas Blanket Ladies— a group of women who have been creating ~150 blankets/year for Washtenaw County mamas since the 70’s. Thousands of blankets later, a 3rd generation of ladies with needle-in-hand, the Blanket Ladies are among the most faithful supporters of ArborWoman’s BabyCare Program.
If we encourage families to adopt certain practices for the sake of safety or well-being, as a community we must provide support to implement those practices. We look forward to a future when all Washtenaw County families have access to the resources they need, not just to get by, but to thrive.”
Openness to people and expression. That’s one of our St. Luke values and I see that lived out in ArborWoman’s desire to partner with other faith-based organizations and individuals to accomplish more for the sake of families in Washtenaw County than they could on their own. Those are partnerships worth celebrating!
St. Luke Lutherans for Life wants to help us partner with organizations like ArborWoman, Hope Clinic, Friends in Deed, etc. to support families in Washtenaw County. Consider the following ways you can immediately engage with them:
- Diaper Collection. Bring in disposable diapers of all sizes to St. Luke from now until June 17, 2018.
- Prayer. Consider joining our ArborWoman’s virtual prayer team and engage in praying for ArborWoman families and their needs.
- Knit blankets. Contact Elise at ArborWoman for more information about partnering with the Blanket Ladies.
- Visit the following sites for more information about partnering to support families: