SAFEchild, The Green Chair Project, and Pacific Western Bank Partner To Give 100 Cribs To Families In Need
26 years ago, the American Academy of Pediatrics launched its Back-To-Sleep campaign — now called Safe to Sleep — with the goal of educating parents about safe sleep practices. The campaign had profound results, most notably in reducing the rates of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) by nearly 50% since then. But despite those efforts, sleep-related deaths are still the number one cause of death in infants one month or older, with 3,500 reported in the United States annually.
While experts agree that it’s important to provide safe and nurturing environments for children to thrive, families in poverty often aren’t able to afford the basic supplies — like a safe crib with a firm mattress — to do so.
That’s where United Way-funded partners SAFEchild, the only child abuse prevention agency in Wake County working directly with families, and The Green Chair Project, which provides home furnishings to families and individuals transitioning out of homelessness, knew they could make a difference. And thanks to a generous grant from Pacific Western Bank, that dream is becoming a reality.
The idea for the partnership began in 2017 in an unexpected place: a Harvard Business School dorm where Jackie Craig, Executive Director of The Green Chair Project, and Cristin DeRonja, Executive Director of SAFEchild, were roommates while taking a nonprofit leadership course.
In their conversations, Jackie shared more about her organization’s Sweeter Dreams program, which launched in 2015 with the goal of providing beds to all school-aged children in Wake County who don’t have beds of their own.
“From the moment we met, we began talking about the need for cribs in our community and that our collaboration could uniquely see and solve this important need,” explains Craig.
Bijou and her baby Berniece were one of the first 10 recipients of a crib through this collaboration. (Photo credit: Tyler Cunningham Photography)
The duo kept in touch and in early 2019, they mentioned the idea during a meeting with Eric Guckian, United Way of the Greater Triangle President and CEO. The power of partnerships took over from there and resulted in a generous grant from Pacific Western Bank to support the distribution of 100 cribs to babies and families in need this year.
“Pacific Western Bank is passionate about investing in the health and well-being of our local community, and this financial support and partnership will enable under-resourced families to take a step forward in their own wellness,” said Matt Wagner, CEO/President of Pacific Western Bank.
Each organization will play a key role in the crib-delivery process with SAFEchild identifying and screening potential applicants and The Green Chair Project assisting in choosing and delivering a crib to each family.
(Photo credit: Tyler Cunningham Photography)
“While SAFEchild is expertly prepared to deliver evidenced-based parent education and support services, we do not provide basic needs support in the way of household furnishings like The Green Chair Project,” said Cristin DeRonja, SAFEchild’s Executive Director. “We too often evaluate infants and toddlers for physical injuries that could be prevented with the appropriate provision of cribs, parent education, and support.”
In total, families will only need to wait a few days between applying for a crib and when the crib is actually delivered. The organizations have already delivered 11 cribs since distribution began in late 2019.
“United Way and Pacific Western Bank’s faith in both organizations’ missions, bolstered by their financial investment, created a powerful child abuse prevention partnership between SAFEchild and The Green Chair Project.”