Seeing how her grandson, George, came into the world, Jean King was struck by how lucky he was. He was celebrated with multiple baby showers, received high-end baby gear, and was gifted more clothes than he could ever possibly wear. She knew not every baby would have the same experience, and she wanted to do something about that.
So she reached out to Neighborhood House to find a way she could give back. She wanted to find a baby born around the same time as George so that when she bought George a gift for his birthday, she could buy the other child a gift as well. But Joan, Neighborhood House’s program director, had another idea. Neighborhood House hosts two baby showers a year for pregnant women and new moms. Joan suggested Jean start supporting these events.
And she did. Since 2017, Jean has raised money and helped plan the bi-annual events. “Jean has been a champion for our baby showers,” says Shellie, manager of the Family Centers program. “Without her support, I am not sure we could continue them.”
Although the event resembles a typical baby shower with gifts, food, and friendly faces, there’s a larger goal in mind. The hope is to reduce isolation, provide education, and build relationships with the women who attend. Many women are referred from their local clinic or community and are new to Neighborhood House.
It’s important to note, Jean has a rich history with Neighborhood House. She first learned of the organization through her synagogue, Mount Zion Temple. At the time, she was teaching evaluation at the University of Minnesota and began helping Neighborhood House with their own evaluation. Later, she joined the board of directors and was eventually elected to the honorary board of directors. She still works with Neighborhood House’s evaluation department, but her passion lies with supporting expecting mothers.
“This is my love,” she says. With all the ways she’s been involved, she’s happiest in a room full of new baby onesies and pacifiers, helping women celebrate their babies.