Every child is deserving of love and care. That’s the message and mandate of Project Noah, an initiative created by Family and Children’s Services (FACS) Niagara to supply infants coming into care with the same warmth and comfort as any new child coming home from the hospital.“We think that children who do need to come into care for various circumstances are no different than any other baby,” said child protection supervisor Dave Gill.So when the 50-Plus Newcomers program reached out about donating hand-knit blankets, clothing and handmade teddy bears to Project Noah, he was thrilled.
The women of the 50-Plus Newcomers meet at the Niagara Folk Arts Multicultural Centre once a week to knit or learn to knit and to make friends and connect, said co-ordinator Irene Altimira.Many of the participants are isolated and lonely, she said. Some don’t speak English and don’t have friends their own age. Having an outlet to express their creativity while contributing to society in a meaningful way empowers them and significantly increases their self-confidence and self-esteem, she said.“You feel proud of what you are doing. You know that you are helping someone, you are helping a family who is receiving this baby.”This gesture, said Gill, is a tangible expression of love for children, which lines up perfectly with the guiding sentiment behind the initiative.
As someone who works in the field and sometimes sees the situation from a different perspective, he said it is humbling to witness the generosity and selflessness of the Newcomers group.
“The whole notion of volunteering is something that speaks to goodness. It speaks to caring,” he said, adding that the project would not exist without the help of volunteers.“Whatever part of the world you’re in, whatever language you speak or whatever your home circumstances are, babies coming into this world, they’re all the same and they don’t deserve anything less than the best that we can give.”
Project Noah, which was established just over seven years ago, was inspired by a young boy with a rare disease who came into care as an infant. Noah exceeded the short life expectancy assigned to him at birth and is doing well under the care of his foster family, said Gill. The layette bag of handmade provisions supplied to homes receiving an infant in care stays with the child when they move to an adopted family or return to a biological family, he said, to serve as a keepsake of each unique and special baby. For more information about the initiative, go to facsniagara.on.ca/project-noah.