We've had so much fun this week introducing you to some of the many people who volunteer in the babywearing community. We've been so inspired by each of these individuals! For our final installment, we introduce you to Kara Cook:
Tell us about yourself- where do you volunteer, and how did you get started?
I became a Volunteer Babywearing Educator with Babywearing International of Phoenix after a year of being an active member and seeing the positive change they were making in our community. I love serving local moms and helping them to discover babywearing. I have a special focus on helping special needs families and families that wish to tandem wear.
I co-run a Special Needs Babywearers of Phoenix support group with my friend and fellow educator Rhiannon. With this group we try to meet the emotional and social challenges of babywearing special needs children, or wearing a child when faced with special needs. Outside of this group, I am building the Little Lives Lending Library, a project to serve children and families that are admitted to our two local children's hospitals, with particular attention to the Infant/Toddler Continuing Care and Oncology units. This project is near and dear to my heart, as my children spent the past 2 years calling these hospitals a second home.
Outside of the babywearing world, I am also a Foster and adoptive parent. I volunteer in our state placement center and after hours office for children that are removed from their homes. These offices serve as a temporary holding area while children from newborn-17 await placement in a foster home. These offices get very busy and volunteers spend our time doing anything from cleaning and laundry to rocking and comforting scared children to sleep.
Who is your babywearing role model?
I look up to the many women in our industry that are fighting to keep babywearing safe and accessible for all families. It is a difficult task to take on, and so many do so on a volunteer basis. From local babywearing leadership to weavers and babywearing educators, these women are empowered and are setting the bar for the rest of us.
How has babywearing impacted your life?
Babywearing has allowed me to bond closely with my now adopted children despite not being able to have the traditionally bonded relationship that I wanted, due to over 2 years in foster care. It has allowed me to meet the attachment needs of my toddler while caring for her baby brother, and to meet both of their many medical challenges. From long late night walks in hospital hallways to surgeries, procedures, and many doctor appointments, babywearing has allowed me to be the best parent I can be.
What advice would you give to a brand new volunteer?
Be mindful. Be mindful of your abilities and play to your strengths. Be mindful of your time and do not take on more than you can commit to 100%. Be mindful of small everyday tasks that can make someone else's life just a bit easier. Be mindful of the needs of your community, your family, and yourself.
What advice would you give to a brand new mom?
Ask for help and let people help you. Let go of the idea that you have to be a perfect parent. No one is perfect. Ask for help. Let friends and family serve you and your family. It will lighten your burden, but also bring joy to those you allow to serve you. Helping others makes people feel good. Accepting help when it is offered makes people feel wanted and appreciated.
What is your biggest triumph or accomplishment as a volunteer?
I love helping special needs families. Seeing a family find relief and discover babywearing for their special needs child is so incredibly rewarding. Seeing our local babywearing community grow and expand to include so many special needs families, and watching those families being embraced with love and acceptance, that is an accomplishment worth celebrating.
How do you make volunteering "fit" into your life?
I just do. We find our priorities and we make them happen. Babywearing and my work with special needs families are important to me. I do as much as I can and then I turn to my amazing community of fellow educators, and I know that they are there with me making sure that everything gets done. They truly are remarkable ladies.
Do you have other hobbies or interests?
I'm a mother first and foremost. I enjoy spending time with my children. I also find joy in reading and film, particularly in Sciene Fiction and Fantasy genres.
What's one thing someone may not know about you?
I love classic literature. I adore Edgar Allan Poe and Jane Austen. I could get lost in the classics.
Congratulations on your nomination, and thank you for participating Kara!