COTTAGE HILLS — In an effort to help parents keep their children safe, Parents N.O.W. recently teamed up with Gorilla Express to conduct free car seat safety checks.
“I was shocked by the amount of families that attended, and every one of them had questions about their child’s car seat,” Parents N.O.W. volunteer Jo Ann Guthrie said. “I am glad we did this event and look forward to doing it again next year.”
Of the 60 car seats inspected, 75 percent were inaccurately functioning or improperly installed. Some examples of the issues found include expired and damaged car seats, loose or unlocked safety belts, seat belts strapped incorrectly through the child seat, and wrong car seats being used for children’s height and weight.
“Four local child passenger safety technicians volunteered their time to educate families on car seat safety,” Guthrie said. “These technicians are dedicated to helping keep our children safe on the roads.”
Participants were rewarded with a free car wash, volunteers vacuumed the cars for free and 25 car seats, donated by Parents N.O.W. supporters, were given away to families.
“The young parents who have gotten Parents N.O.W. services take pride in being a part of our group,” Parents N.O.W volunteer Jamie Jumper said. “Some parents have been with the program for five years. They stick around to mentor other parents and volunteer. They even volunteered during the car seat safety check by helping participants complete paperwork and cleaning cars.”
Dedicated to serving parents age 25 and younger, the organization is a ministry of Bethalto Christian Church. Young parents earn points for completing well baby checkups, going to their Women, Infants and Children (WIC) appointments and holding down a job. They can then purchase baby clothes, diapers and other supplies essential to parenting, during monthly meetings, with the points they earn.
“Young parents may come to a meeting for a pack of diapers, but they stay because of the relationships they form,” Jumper said. “We know we can’t be everything, but we do what we do best: build relationships. Then we can give them advice and link them with resources within the community. Until you form that relationship, you can’t really give the parenting advice these young parents need.”
Parents N.O.W. meets the second Friday of each month, except in December, at 5 p.m. in the Bethalto Christian Church, 724 E. Bethalto Blvd. Childcare and a meal are provided at no charge, and a discussion is held after dinner.
Volunteers are needed to provide and serve meals and care for children at the monthly meeting. Other volunteer opportunities include serving as a mentor and helping with computer work.
“Parenting is very difficult even at my age,” Jumper said. “I can’t imagine being a young parent. Parents N.O.W. is important to these parents because we can love them in a nonjudgmental way. We are a good influence in their lives.”
The organization not only helps with parenting, but also has resources for relationship management and personal well-being.
Monetary donations are welcome at www.bethaltochristianchurch.org/#!parents-now/cevg, and donations of gently used baby items are needed.
“If you are looking for a good home for your gently used baby items, we’ll take them,” Jumper said. “We also always need diapers and hygiene items.”
For information, contact Jumper at (618) 377-9259 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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