Center assists moms with purchases

Women earn credit in exchange for taking classes

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— New mothers in Routt County can get free clothing, toys and furniture for their infants as long as they do their homework.

The Steamboat Springs Pregnancy Resource Center recently launched its Earn While You Learn program to give pregnant and nursing mothers a chance to build credit toward otherwise costly purchases for their children.

Mothers who participate earn "mommy money" to spend on such things as maternity clothes, cribs and diapers.

In exchange for mommy money, mothers agree to take lessons in parenting, nutrition and infant development.

"It just gives them an opportunity to take responsibility for earning those things rather than feeling like they are being given a handout," director Penny Lucas said.

The program replaces the Loan Closet, which allowed pregnant women and new mothers to use baby and maternity clothes and other items on the condition they return the borrowed items.

The way to earn mommy money is straightforward. Mothers get a dollar in mommy money for coming to the office, a second dollar for completing the lesson at the office and a third dollar for bringing their homework back to the office.

"Each lesson basically earns them three dollars in mommy money," Lucas said.

Homework usually entails a worksheet about what they just learned, she said.

The Earn While You Learn curriculum covers every trimester of pregnancy, including infant development in the womb, prenatal nutrition and ultrasounds. Delivery and post-birth are also covered with lessons on infant temperament and ailments and building parent-child relationships.

Lucas stressed the lessons are not one-size-fits-all.

"We try to tailor it to each mom's needs," she said.

Often a video accompanies a lesson, which mothers can watch in the office.

Local churches and individuals have traditionally funded the Pregnancy Resource Center, and Lucas said the center is seeking out different organizations to purchase videos and pamphlets.

The center offers more than material items. Mothers and spouses can receive counseling and advice.

Support groups have formed to provide pregnant women and new mothers a chance to share how they handle childbirth and the care of their infants.

The center holds a local connection with someone who can assist with adoption procedures.

The Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association and LIFT-UP of Routt County sometime refer pregnant or nursing mothers to the Pregnancy Resource Center.

Lucas said the center is working with local gynecologists and the VNA to see if vouchers for mommy money could be given to mothers who keep their medical appointments.

To assist as many women as possible, donations of used and new clothing, baby furniture, toys and other items such as diapers are always welcomed.

The Pregnancy Resource Center holds office hours from 1 to 5 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays at its upstairs location at 482 Lincoln St. above Lyon's Drug.

The center also welcomes volunteers who want to work with pregnant women and new mothers on their lessons and serve as mentors.

People interested in the program should call 871-1307.

o reach Danie Harrelson call 871-4203

or e-mail dharrelson@steamboatpilot.com

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