Pregnancy can be a joyful experience for expectant mothers and their families. Unfortunately for some women, significant disparities persist in the healthcare available to them. These disparities often run along racial lines, and as a result, maternal mortality is higher among black women than their white peers.
Health officials and legislators point to several reasons for these disparities, including racism, sexism, food insecurity, and lack of access to healthcare and health insurance coverage. The Racial Inequities in Maternal Health Commission was formed last year to review data and testimony from childbirths to inform the development of policies to address health inequities and promote culturally competent care across the Commonwealth.
For the last 12 years, United Way has worked to ensure expectant parents in our region are aware of available health resources and feel supported in their pregnancies, with a focus on BIPOC women in predominantly low-income communities. We’ve hosted the Community Baby Shower since 2011 to celebrate expectant mothers and provide them with infant care essentials and resources to support their baby’s development and their own health and wellness.
The two-day festivities occur this year on Mother’s Day weekend, beginning with two virtual baby showers on Friday, May 6. During the celebrations, attendees connect with other expectant parents and receive maternal health and early childhood development resources.
Working with our partner agencies, on Saturday, May 7, United Way is distributing 1,000 gift bags to families to spread some joy and help ease the financial burden that has been exacerbated in recent weeks due to rising inflation.
This year, United Way collaborated with the Boston Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., the local chapter of one of the largest Black Greek-letter organizations in the world. The historical African-American sorority’s local chapter focuses on supporting the Greater Boston community by providing programs and events that empower and serve the needs of our community. Local Deltas helped to promote, coordinate, and plan festivities for the upcoming distribution at the Thelma Burns Building in Grove Hall.
“We are extremely excited to partner with United Way to host this year’s Community Baby Shower! We remain steadfast in our commitment to ensuring health and wellness as well as serving the needs of our community,” said Kathy Baynes, President of the Boston Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. “We are thankful our chapter, Boston Alumnae is able to be a servant leader in this impactful event.”
United Way’s partner agency Family Nurturing Center is facilitating the distribution at the Thelma Burns Building and were connected to the Deltas through State Rep. Liz Miranda, who represents parts of Roxbury and Dorchester and sponsored the legislation to establish the Racial Inequities in Maternal Health Commission. Thelma Burns herself is a community activist and longtime advocate for social justice issues like health equity in Boston’s communities of color. Both State Rep. Liz Miranda and Thelma Burns are members of the Boston Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
“We look forward to this event every year, providing basic baby essentials to members of our community in need,” said Dahlia Bousaid Cox, Vice President of Engagement at United Way. “This year we’ve expanded our reach and had the opportunity to partner with amazing agencies and local leaders who join us in promoting and supporting the maternal and early childhood health of our most vulnerable residents.”
If you’d like to donate to fund essential baby basic kits including diapers and wipes for families throughout Greater Boston, Merrimack Valley, the North Shore and Greater Attleboro-Taunton, click here.
If you are in need of maternal health and early childhood development resources, click here to register for the virtual Community Baby Shower, featuring live interpretation in Spanish.