When it comes to having a newborn, Good Beginnings in Central Vermont is a place to go for help.
By Cassie Horner
Good Beginnings of Central Vermont by Cassie Horner
Good Beginnings of Central Vermont is a volunteer-based, community-based method of supporting new families. The services are free, and available to foster and adoptive parents, too.
This grassroots nonprofit was founded by a mother in Northfield, Vermont, in 1991. “She ran Good Beginnings from her kitchen for over 20 years,” says Gretchen Elias, executive director. “She recognized in today’s society a real lack of support for new parents.” The trend to send new mothers home from the hospital quickly, within 48 hours, can be stressful for new parents. The group helps them by organizing volunteer visits to homes during the crucial first trimester following the birth of a child. “The visits provide an extra set of hands, resources, and an informal listening ear,” Gretchen says. “New parents deserve respite and support.” Last year, 107 families from 28 towns were served through the Postpartum Angel Family Support Program.
Seven years ago, Good Beginnings expanded its range of services to include the Nest parent drop-in space in Montpelier. Families with children from birth to age two can visit the Nest to be fitted for a baby carrier or attend a new parent support group. “It is a good first outing with the baby, especially with a first child,” Gretchen says. “It’s an intimate setting where people can nurse and relate to other moms.”
Good Beginnings also offers free workshops for expectant parents to help them prepare for the transition to parenthood. Volunteers are key to the programs, and come from a wide variety of backgrounds, ranging from retired educators and nurses to parents who used the service themselves.
The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in significant changes to services provided by Good Beginnings. The weekly new parent support group now meets online, since the Nest is closed. Volunteers have been providing support primarily via phone or text, but will begin to visit families again over the summer. For updates on changing services, please call (802) 276-0383. Despite the need for changes, the group remains dedicated to supporting new parents. Visit goodbeginningscentralvt.org for more information about the organization.
Good Beginnings of Central Vermont
174 River Street