As our offices are closed to the public, we have substantial changes to our operating model. Layette inventory is now purchased rather than donated. As the Calgary Volunteer Program is suspended, Edmonton staff drive to Calgary exclusively so layettes can be picked up by our partner agencies (contactless, in accordance with Alberta Health protocol.) These are important aspects needed to sustain our Layette Program that provides a 1-yr supply of baby clothing to extreme need newborns in Calgary.
“The only thing constant in life is change.” These profound words certainly ring true for Basically Babies. Our 25-year journey has been a steady stream of milestones and accomplishments … always changing for the better, always maintaining a constant focus on our mandate.
The initial idea for Basically Babies originated in January of 1994 with a group of 6 young moms, all friends, each with a new baby at the time. Together, we recognized a number of things:
We started small…a group of young moms in a shag-covered basement room, an idea, and 6 or 7 boxes of baby clothing and we went from there. We named our project “Baby Bundles” and started collecting baby items and telling others about our idea. We connected with friends that were pediatricians and obstetricians so that they could connect us with needy families with newborns. We collected, sorted, sized, selected, laundered, ironed, and subsequently created beautifully packaged, colour-coordinated packages of baby items that any new mom would be happy to receive. We met monthly and prepared and distributed 10-15 layettes each year. We carried on for a number of years, meeting more frequently, growing our collection of baby items and expanding our production and overall distribution of the finished layettes to needy families. Some of the original members moved away or found other interests; we lost some people and gained some new people but in the process, we once again, together, recognized a number of things:
So…we set about looking for a small space to house our growing project. To date, we had self-funded all operations and the thought of self-funding leased space was daunting; however, a solid commitment to the work was there, so we stepped out and leased an 800 square foot second-floor space in south Edmonton. We had a new home!! The excitement was great and we set about moving forward this growing project. We also became a registered charity with all of the responsibility and accountability that is required through that process.
Along the way, organizations working with families living in situations of extreme need connected with us as they heard about and understood the nature of our work and the practical and beautiful packages we were preparing. Inner-city organizations, aboriginal organizations, abuse shelters, all manner of health-care agencies, organizations working with teens and organizations assisting in getting women out of street life all connected with us and wanted to ensure that their clients received a layette to assist them with their initial baby needs.
Through all this time, we grew! We grew and we grew and we grew! This growth was based simply on need…need that was identified as we worked with the many organizations that were also assisting these families. We grew from several boxes of baby clothing in a basement with half a dozen volunteers to a full-scale, multi-faceted organization with a hundred thousand inventory items, several hundred volunteers, a large warehouse and much support from individuals, corporations and other organizations…all working together to help us “outfit newborns in need.”
Over the years, we have never lost sight of the one thing that we do…the purpose that we serve…our mandate … we “outfit newborns in need” … and we do it well! We have grown, changed, moved warehouses, added inventory, added production capacity, become more efficient, become more organized and added other resources but our focus has remained … that of ensuring that newborns living in situations of extreme poverty are cared for in both a practical and beautiful way, through the provision of a layette.
That is our focus; that is our intent. As we move into our 25th year of operation, we thrilled to announce a 2-year pilot project, starting September 2018, that expands our mandate to the City of Calgary! Following this 2-year pilot, we intend to provide our services in the Calgary area on a permanent basis, growing it into the full-scale operation that currently exists in the Edmonton area.
It is our purpose and it is our pleasure to meet these needs.
Our Charitable Work
Basically Babies is a registered charity that is committed to supporting families in extreme need with newborns through the provision of a baby “layette”. We offer the gift of a complete first year’s wardrobe for these infants in the form of a beautifully packaged, appropriately-sized, color-coordinated layette basket filled with clothing, outerwear, blankets, toys, storybooks, sleepers, undershirts, footwear and other baby essentials. All included items are carefully checked to ensure quality and presentation is excellent and that they are scrupulously clean, mended and pressed. A Basically Babies layette is a gift intended to communicate worth, value, respect and dignity to each family, while providing for wardrobe and baby supply essentials. We want each layette to be a beautiful gift that anyone would be thrilled to receive, not just a basket full of used clothing.
Basically Babies is mandated to partner with other charities and non-profits as well as health care agencies to distribute our layettes. These organizations provide long-term counseling, support, programming and services to families in extreme need. Our intent, by carefully selecting our recipient organizations, is to connect families to agencies that are providing the much needed support and services; as well, the layette helps to strengthen the bond formed between the agency and the family thus making it easier for them to work together.
When one of our partnering agencies (called Recipient Organizations, RO) identify a family in extreme need that they feel would be a candidate for one of our layette baskets, they submit a request to us through our online application (accessed through our website). If approved, the layette basket is picked up by RO staff and delivered to the family. We accept requests from approved ROs for families in extreme need with a newborn from delivery up to 6 months old.
Our Corporate Values and Direction Statement
Direction Statement: “Our role is to advance and protect the welfare of infants born into families in extreme need through the provision of a beautiful gift of a gender-specific, cost-effective, baby wardrobe containing a one year supply of baby clothing and accessories. Our desire is to communicate value, dignity and hope to the recipient families while providing opportunities for committed volunteers to serve our fellow community members.”
Basically Babies has developed the following key values that provide the foundation and the framework to guide our strategic planning, our business planning, our decision-making and our treatment of all people: volunteers, staff, recipients, recipient organizations or others we connect with in our activities.
These key values are:
Honesty We believe that honesty is of utmost importance in all of our activities as individuals and as a charitable entity.
Integrity We believe that we must always demonstrate integrity in all of our conduct and in dealing with our clients and our own personnel.
Excellence We believe that we must go above and beyond the expected to deliver a level of excellence in our work that is unsurpassed.
Accountability We believe that we must ensure full, authentic and factual accountability to our constituents to ensure funds are raised, accounted for and spent according to clear and specific formal strategic plans that include balanced budgets.
Human Dignity We believe that we must actively demonstrate the worth and value of human dignity to each and every person we come in contact with including clients, recipient organizations, staff, volunteers and business contacts.
Our Layette Program
Basically Babies’ sole mandate is our Layette program. Through this program, we provide for the basic outfitting needs of infants born to families in extreme need. Each layette produced by this program contains approximately 110 items including summer and winter clothing, snowsuits, jackets, hats, mittens, sweaters, shoes, socks, slippers, sleepers, undershirts, blankets, towels, washcloths, toys, books and more. Layettes are created from a combination of gently used items that are donated by the many contributors and supporters from the community, as well as new items that we purchase to fill in gaps for essential items that we do not receive in sufficient quantities from donations. We sort, size, organize, warehouse, launder, clean, iron and ultimately assemble all items into beautiful, colour-coordinated layette baskets containing this full year’s wardrobe. Each layette is sized appropriately for the season when the baby is born.
Layettes are distributed through our partnerships with over 100 local organizations (health care, charities, non-profit) who are working with these families on a long-term, life-skill building basis. These “recipient organizations” identify a family in extreme need and then request a layette from Basically Babies through our on-line, web-based interface request system. The quality of life for families in extreme need with a newborn is enhanced when they receive a layette basket that provides the first year wardrobe for their infant. The layette is practical, functional, appropriately sized and delivered to the family for immediate use.
This method, as a means of distribution, assists in building relationships of trust between these families and their workers (nurses, caseworkers, volunteers, etc..) as they work towards building positive change, growth and the development of additional life-skills. By looking after this important financial and logistical burden of outfitting their baby, families are better able to focus on building and enhancing life skills relevant to the factors that may have contributed to their current situations. This may include finding employment, gaining additional education, learning new job skills, learning parenting skills or dealing with mental and physical health issues.
Equitable access to a layette is fundamental to Basically Babies. Families receiving these layettes are often marginalized members of society and are in extreme need as characterized by the following factors: extreme poverty, sometimes with little or no education, often with minimal or no employment, little or no marketable skills, sometimes having limited English skills, sometimes abused, sometimes addicted, sometimes with significant legal or family problems, sometimes with mental or physical illnesses, sometimes adjusting to a new life in Canada as a refugee or immigrant or sometimes looking for a way to get out of a life on the streets. The common theme is that they are in situations of extreme need and benefit enormously from the support given them through the provision of a Basically Babies’ layette.
In addition, Basically Babies’ Layette program uses, reuses and recycles tens of thousands of baby items per year. These items are able to be reused, recycled and repurposed for use by other families with infants. This in turn eliminates items going into landfills and significantly supports the environment. Basically Babies also passes along items that we are unable to use but that are useable to other agencies within the city thus continuing the cycle of use and re-use. Items that cannot be used as clothing are also sent to fabric salvage to be re-purposed into other items. Being environmentally responsible is key to our Layette Program; we support the environmental priorities of the communities of Edmonton and Calgary through our reuse and recycling of baby items.
Lastly, Basically Babies engages hundreds of volunteers in our work providing them with the opportunity to give back to the local community in a meaningful and practical way, as together, we meet the needs of families in extreme need with newborns in our community.
We firmly believe stronger families build stronger communities and are committed to the local community through our layette program.
Give! … The number of families that need our help grows each year. If you would like to partner with us to help outfit newborns in need, please consider giving a monetary donation towards our layette program. We are excellent financial stewards of our funding.
Donate! … A Basically Babies Layette is a gift intended to communicate worth, value, respect and dignity to each family. We want each layette to be a beautiful gift that anyone would be thrilled to receive, not just a basket full of used clothing. We welcome donations of clean, good quality, gently used or new baby clothing and small infant related items.
Volunteer! … Volunteering at Basically Babies gives you the chance to make a difference and positively change someone’s life, as well as meet new people, and create friendships. We have many different volunteering opportunities that cater to different schedules such as monthly work nights, regular volunteer days, organizing your own group or helping with fundraising events and donation drives!
Collect! … We rely on our supporters to collect and donate the many items we need for our program. Each week our Layette Program requires approximately 3,00 items, Most of these are donated by individuals and organizations. Key items that we do not receive enough of are snowsuits, sleepers, undershirts, socks, shoes, slippers and receiving blankets.
Promote! … As we are relatively new in Calgary, we need to increase the public awareness of our organization. You can help by telling others (family, friends, colleagues, etc…) about our work as well as actively following us on social media.