More than 600 guests attended the second annual Community Baby Shower hosted by Citizen Potawatomi Nation’s Workforce & Social Services Department and the CPN Child Development Center on Wednesday, March 4, 2020. The event, held at the FireLake Arena, honored Native and non-Native pregnant mothers and families with infants and toddlers.

Chad Stieben and Jessica Watkins teach infant CPR during the Community Baby Shower at FireLake Arena.

“That’s what we’re trying to do is to get the information out to people, and not just Natives need childcare stuff,” said CPN Community Services Counselor and event organizer Bobbi Middleton.

Attendees enjoyed refreshments while learning about community resources, participated in educational sessions, and based upon the activities they completed, received tickets to win door prizes like cribs, toddler beds, high chairs and more.

“Some of these resources I didn’t know were in Shawnee, so it’s nice to have this information, like Legacy Parenting,” said new mom Alyssa Landes.

Landes attended the Community Baby Shower with her mother and 1-month-old son, and she appreciated the chance to become better acquainted with nearby organizations and services from more than 40 vendors.

Community Renewal, a local nonprofit that seeks to connect and restore communities through intentional relationships, attended the past two years.

Dayvon Anderson and his daughter, Mia, during the CPN Community Baby Shower at FireLake Arena.

“It’s an honor to be out here, and it’s an honor to have a conversation with parents about how important social capital is to their child’s development,” said Zoe Loeser, Community Renewal block leader coordinator.

Small classrooms at each corner of the arena housed 15-minute educational sessions covering CPR, safe sleep, post-partum depression, fire safety, helpful parenting, healthy cooking, offerings from the CPN Child Development Center and poison control.

“I think the best one for me was the post-partum class because a lot of mothers deal with post-partum depression and anxiety, and they think that they’re crazy or something is wrong with them. And it’s actually really normal,” said event attendee Shannon Bennett. “They talked about how normal it is and the statistics and also what can cause that, and it makes you feel not so bad … if you have it, and so I thought that was the best class.”

An event of this size required the Workforce & Social Services Department and others across the Nation to begin planning months in advance. Middleton attended coalition meetings across the Citizen Potawatomi service area to stay updated on emerging trends and needs across all communities.

“We started early because a lot of donations are from outside sources. We have to be able to request the donation in time for their grant periods and everything. A lot of it happened really early,” Middleton said.

The CPN Child Development Center donated the large prizes as well as food for the event.

“We’ve given away over 160 medium door prizes and 80 large door prizes, including trundle beds, pack and plays, recliners, gliders, cribs, and we’ve got it all to the families that needed it,” Middleton said.

Last year, less than 200 participated in the first annual Community Baby Shower, but more than 600 attended in 2020. Middleton hopes the trend continues into 2021.

“We keep having more and more agencies hear about us and want to join in,” Middleton said. “We just hope that it just continues to grow every year, and we really just get to join the community together.”