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!