It was late evening on the Sunday before Labor Day in 2010 when the "newly trained and certified me" reported at the Greater Minneapolis Crisis Nursery for my very first volunteer shift. The receptionist buzzed me in, and took me to the room where the paid state employees were getting ready for the evening shift. They all warmly welcomed me, and one of them asked how I felt about taking care of little babies. Even though I had never changed a diaper up until that moment, I confidently told her that I was perfectly fine. She went into the next room, and came back with 4-week old beautiful baby boy D, and gently lowered him into my arms. For the next 4 hours, I fed, burped, changed, and rocked baby D to sleep. I was incredibly lucky for he was well tempered and mostly quiet, always watching me with his big brown eyes, his tiny lips on the verge of a smile.
The hours quickly passed by and only when he finally closed his eyes to fall into deep slumber in my arms in a rocking chair, I felt overcome by an strange feeling I never felt before. I asked baby D "where is your mother?" to which he quietly stirred and sighed in his sleep. This was the last long weekend at the end of summer when families did something together with their children, and here was this beautiful child along with 15 others in this shelter in the care of loving strangers. I put him in one of the empty cribs, lifted and secured the side, and looked around the room where 3 other little ones were also sleeping in other cribs, and the state employee was filling up the forms for each one of them.
That first shift and the following 6 shifts I've completed at GMCN during the two months before I left for my new life in California, were life-changing in my rapidly changing life that year. I was a mother to someone every time a pair of those little arms were held up from those beds calling out to their mummy, and I picked them up wiping away their tears, holding them tight in my arms, and whispering quietly "shhhh ... it will all be alright", hoping that maybe - just maybe - I can leave a warm spot in their little hearts to trust that there are good people out there, and they can become one of them.
GMCN is very unique in the services it provides, and is truly relying on donations made by caring people. There is no other like it across the country (please click the link above to learn more about it, and maybe donate goods or money or your time). They recently moved to a better location to the south of the Twin Cities, and this week they are running a contest to choose a "spokesbaby" to appear in TV commercials to get more people's attention. Please click HERE to navigate to their facebook page, and help them choose a spokesbaby to spread the word. My fair warning to you: it is very hard to pick one of those cutie pies! :)