Two pink lines. Never have such small indicators meant such monumental change in someone's life. For those hoping for a baby, those lines spark exuberance. For many others, panic is the result. When that baby arrives, no matter what the initial reaction, the result is the same--an uphill battle to feed, clothe and care for a precious human life.
When members of the Buckner United Method Church saw an uptick in teen pregnancies in their community, they answered the need by creating Baby Grace. Since 2008, they have used the organization as a means to meet the physical needs of underprivileged parents while spreading the good news of the Gospel. Twelve years and 20 chapters later, their mission has spread throughout the Kansas City metro area.
North Star United Methodist Church joined the ranks in 2011 as an outreach of their youth group. Baby Grace aims to meet the basic needs of parents--clothing, diapers, books, and when possible, larger equipment like cribs or strollers. To do this, they host quarterly Open House events that allow caregivers to come and pick out items for free. There's no registration or qualification needed—only the willingness to ask for help.
North Star Baby Grace is spearheaded by North Star members Beth Whitton and Lisa Henderson. What began as a youth outreach has been embraced by the congregation as a whole.
"As the ministry has grown, we've found that there are all sorts of families that need help. There's no age limit. As we've seen the opioid epidemic grow in our area, we are seeing more grandparents that are raising their grandchildren. We've helped some foster families that have received children that have needs," says Henderson.
Henderson says that one of the things that set Baby Grace apart is the lack of qualifications to receive aid. People have come from as far away as Atchison, KS, sometimes, says Henderson, to retain anonymity.
"It's very difficult to ask for help, and we appreciate how hard that must be. We don't ask where they are from anymore. We just ask their names and what they need," says Henderson.
North Star Baby Grace finds resources in many places. They volunteer with the Just Between Friends consignment sale and are allowed to take what doesn't sell to distribute for their open houses. While the current COVID-19 situation has shut down Open Houses for the foreseeable future due to lack of resources to distribute, Henderson and her team have found other ways to serve. Now, diaper drive-thrus are helping parents.
The organization has forged relationships with a diaper manufacturer that allows them to purchase diapers at a discounted rate. They also take donations from Kylie's Gift in conjunction with the Saint Luke's Hospital Foundation. An annual wine tasting and silent auction fundraiser at Belvoir Winery each February funds the majority of the diaper costs, in addition to individual donations.
Now, Henderson says that her idle hands have a purpose. Diapers are repackaged into packs of 30. Along with diapers, the team is handing out children's Bibles that present the stories in a kid-friendly way.
"My kids are grown now, so when we are all stuck at home, I have something to do--I can always repackage diapers," she laughs. "I would love to do more, but right now, we are trying to focus on the necessities."
For more information, visit BabyGrace.org or Facebook.com/North-Star-Baby-Grace. If you'd like to contribute to the diaper fund, please mail donations to North Star Baby Grace, 11250 N Eastern Ave, Kansas City, MO 64156.