What is Sistering CU and how did you come about the idea?
Sistering CU is a non-profit that recruits and trains volunteers to go to the homes of families with new babies for the first twelve weeks after birth, for two hours a week. So volunteers will go two hours every week for twelve weeks to help out usually a mom so that she has extra parenting hand, so she can take a nap, take a shower, pay bills, call a friend, or maybe play with her older children, you know, whatever she needs. Or, if she needs help running errands, volunteers can help, like if she needs to go to a grocery store or Target, the volunteer can watch the baby while she gets stuff done. So that, you know, she feels a little relief, and hopefully gets some time to herself. Because research show that if they get two hours, or even an hour a week, it can reduce rates of postpartum depression.
How did you connect with the JL from Sistering CU? What was the process like applying for the CAF grant?
It was very straightforward. They have it laid out, all the requirements that what you need to make the application. As long as your organization aligns with the things they are trying to support throughout the community, like children’s health, for example, or the health of the family, it’s pretty clear how your organization can fit with the CAF grant. So that’s why we have applied for it, and have have been successful in the past with it.
How has Sistering CU applied the CAF grant for expanding its resources?
When we first applied, we were brand new, and we needed help getting marketing materials out. We used the grant to help pay for marketing materials like flyers and pamphlets, to put out. These help explain to the community who we were, what we were doing, and how we can help, because we want to get our name out there so that moms will request our help, as well as to to recruit more volunteers, too.
What is the first word that comes to mind when you think about the Junior League? How would you describe the JL?
I think of women’s leadership, and how women demonstrate their leadership. It’s usually through supporting the community, supporting families, and trying to make a strong foundation so that everyone in the community thrives, and not just particular groups. When I think of the JL, I think of them trying to look at a more holistic picture of leadership and how the community can be improved.
How many mothers have you worked with so far with Sistering CU? Are they recurring families?
We served 17 families so far in our first year, and they are individual families. Some of the volunteers have been recurring they have taken a few different families, but it has been 17 individual families so far.
We saw that you have two programs that are listed as “coming soon” on your website: Life After Birth Family Support Groups and a “Preparing for the 4th Trimester” class. Could you talk a little bit more about these programs?
On May 16th, at the Urbana Free Library, we are hosting a free documentary film screening of the documentary “When the Bough breaks,” narrated by Brooke Shields, and it’s about postpartum depression. May is Perinatal Disorder Month, so that’s why we are hosting it in May. It’s co-sponsored by the Urbana Free Library and also the IDEA Coalition. At that event, we will have a panel of local experts talking about the local resources for postpartum depression. At least three out of ten women who have given birth will experience a perinatal mood disorder. and it’s probably more like four out of ten, because it goes undiagnosed very often. That panel of experts will be there to answer the questions about what we have locally, and at that point, we will roll out our postpartum class plan, and announce what we have. We are working on the postpartum resource guide, so that women, and the family together, can think about that fourth trimester and can think about the resources they do have, how they can organize it and be prepared. When the fourth trimester hits, I mean, that’s a real thing– it’s a healing, it’s a physiological healing, and if you are adopting, there’s still a physiological component to bonding, and sleep deprivation, and all of that. Getting a plan together of what your resources are in terms of community, what your resources are in terms of services you might want to look into is really important, that’s just what we want to get people planning for.
You mentioned adoption– How does Sistering CU cater to different types of mothers, such as adopting mothers, single mothers, or mothers from low-income families?
Anybody is eligible. It doesn’t matter if you gave birth or adopted, and it doesn’t matter what your income is. We strongly believe that anybody who has a newborn baby needs help, and deserves help. We want to be there as a community for them, as this can be a really joyful time, but it’s a difficult time as well. We want to be there to help with the joys and the difficulties– it’s all normal. We just want be there to help because, especially in our culture, moms are not focused on, and they need to be, because the mortality rate in the United States is very high compared to other industrialized countries, and we can do better. It is so obvious and so simple, and there’s things we can do and all we have to do is get organized and do it.
What would you like to see JL doing in the future?
The JL [does] focus on children and do focus on families. I would also like them to focus on women, and women’s health, in and of itself, because I think women…we matter. We don’t have to only matter in terms of our service to somebody else. I would like to see that on the agenda, and [show that] it’s okay that we want to take care of women, too.