Peter Alexander of NBC News Chicago reports:
Chicago – With more than ten new arrivals a day, the mother-baby unit at Chicago’s Mount Sinai Hospital – Munchkinland, they call it – prides itself on special deliveries.
As a nurse’s aide, it’s Conetta Stephens’ job to bathe every baby, but she doesn’t stop there.
“I take a baby to a mom all dressed up, dolled up. I like to see the smile on the momma’s face,” Ms. Stevens says.
For the last 21 years, Stephens has been bundling newborns into brand-new outfits and blankets – with each girl getting a little ribbon on top.
Having lost count long ago, Stephens guesses that she must have dressed up “more than a thousand” babies this way.
Rhonda Ross, new mother of baby girl Janaya Ross (a healthy 8 pounds, 5 ounces), welcomes the little touches. “It means a lot to me that someone… a stranger, who doesn’t really know me that well, is willing to help me.”
WATCH CONETTA STEPHENS ON NIGHTLY NEWS – MAKING A DIFFERENCE
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Stephens knows how it feels to need help. She gave birth herself at just 16 years old, and struggled for years as a single mom. Every small gift she gives to a mom brings tears to her eyes and reminds her of her own experiences.
For years, she would buy the baby outfits and accessories herself, making these gifts all the more special, considering that Stephens can barely cover her own bills.
Alone, she could never keep up with the constant wave of newborns and new mothers. But last year, inspired by her generosity, the hospital unit began collecting donations.
Mt. Sinai Hospital is located in one of Chicago’s poorer neighborhoods. Nearly four thousand babies are born there each year, to mothers who are almost exclusively African-American and Latino. To each mother, any gift, even a simple baby gift, makes a difference.
As a social worker in the unit, Minerva Esparza understands. ”[For] most moms, a baby blanket or a onesie doesn’t mean anything to them. But to our moms, it’s the world.”