WINDSOR, Colo. — In 2019, Graciela Hernández and her mother had just won custody of her cousin’s three children: a seven-year-old boy, a toddler and a newborn.
Although Hernandez worked to help her mother support the children, the family was struggling to pay for diapers and formula. So Hernandez reached out to moms’ groups on Facebook for help.
A parent suggested reaching out Support for the Northern Colorado Storka growing nonprofit that provides maternity, postpartum and baby supplies to low-income families from pregnancy and through the baby’s first year.
Nikola Reinfelds, executive director of the organization, said there are only two requirements to receive services from Stork Support of Northern Colorado: the application for support must come from a caregiver of an infant in the first year and the caregiver must communicate with respect.
“There are a lot of great resources, mainly in Larimer County and Fort Collins,” Reinfelds said. “But many families didn’t have access to these resources because they didn’t have access to transportation.”
He explained that the organization tries to keep requirements low to limit barriers to entry that low-income families may experience, such as the cost of providing proof of residency.
Reinfelds herself was once a client of Stork Support and a volunteer for the organization.
“I I was getting ready to have my second child. I felt very alone. And after having my second child, postpartum is hard… So Stork Support became a resource for me to find purpose again,” she said.
When founder Lisa Jensen moved away from Colorado, Reinfelds stepped in to help turn Stork Support into an official nonprofit.
According to Reinfelds, Stork Support has already completed 497 support requests this year. They have provided postpartum kits, which always include period supplies as well as clothes, blankets, bottles and more.
Hernandez recalled feeling nervous about joining the Stork Support Facebook group because he was worried he would be tipped off.
But she found that people were not pressured to talk to other parents in the Facebook group, and requests for support could be submitted discreetly by filling out the form on the Stork Support website or sending a private message to the Facebook.
After submitting a request for support, the organization helped provide formula and diapers for Hernández’s family.
In 2021, Hernandez discovered she was pregnant and contacted Stork Support again.
“It had already been three months and I had nothing ready,” he said. “I didn’t have a job. I had just started my job the day I found out I was pregnant, and they didn’t want me back because they didn’t want me working pregnant in the kitchen.”
Stork Support provided Hernández’s family with enough formula for two months, as well as some clothes for her baby and her boyfriend’s then-one-year-old.
“It helped a lot … We were able to pay bills and be able to get what we needed for the babies without having to struggle,” Hernandez said.
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Realizing they only needed one month of support, Hernandez and her family returned the extra formula and unused diapers so other families in need of these resources could use them.
According to Reinfelds, the organization limits the number of families that receive support each month so that there is capacity to respond to families in emergency situations. Although the link to the request form on the website is currently closed, Reinfelds work number for text messages is still provided for emergency requests.
“Emergency applications can look like a foster parent who received an emergency placement with only the clothes on the baby’s back. They can look like a family that had a house fire. It can look a family escaping domestic violence. It might look like a family that wasn’t prepared for the cost of living along with the cost of bringing a baby home,” Reinfelds said.
Hernandez has seen moms talk to each other about what has helped them when they have a newborn: breastfeeding information, tips for managing sleep deprivation, nighttime routines that help with colicky babies, resources for postpartum depression.
He’s met a couple of parents in person so their kids could play with each other, and he’s also messaged the moms privately for advice.
“I felt a little embarrassed to have to ask for help so I could take care of my kids, but they don’t make it feel that way.” Hernandez said.
Like Hernandez, Sachell Muniz heard about Stork Support from a parent in another Facebook group. Muniz was pregnant and her family could not afford to buy new baby items.
At first, Muniz was also reluctant to ask for support.
“I felt like maybe there’s someone who needs it more than me, or maybe there’s someone who’s in a worse situation than me. But these resources were put out there for people like us who are struggling,” Muniz said .
In the past, Muniz’s family has received toys, clothes, spoons, bowls, bottles, formula and a booster seat — items Muniz said parents may not expect to need right away or can add up quickly — from Stork Support of the North from Colorado.
“Once we’re done with it, we try to keep it in really good condition, and then we can get it back to [Nikola Reinfelds] so I can pass it on to the next family,” Muniz said.
For families in need of support, Muniz offered some words of encouragement: “Don’t be afraid to reach out… Just live your life. They are your child and you are raising them the way you know best or think is best for your child.”
Theresa Ho is the digital content producer for RMPBS Kids. You can contact her at [email protected].