Diapers and wipes, “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” board books and energy bars for hungry parents. At Fluke Corp. in Everett Friday, workers stepped away from their jobs to assemble those items into kits for new moms.
“It’s part of our two-generational approach, representing the importance of the bonding period and the brain development for a baby,” said Allison Warren-Barbour, president and CEO of United Way of Snohomish County.
Friday was the local United Way’s 24th annual Day of Caring, and its second as part of the Puget Sound Day of Caring that included volunteers from King and Pierce counties.
In Snohomish County, about 450 volunteers pitched in with 26 projects, said Allison Matsumoto, United Way’s director of marketing and communications. Most helpers were in teams from local companies. Chores included landscaping at the Marysville YMCA, helping at Cocoon House’s home for pregnant teens and young mothers in Arlington, and cleaning at the Volunteers of America Everett Food Bank.
Workers from Fluke, a test- and measurement-equipment company, helped at several Day of Caring sites. “Our parent company, Fortive, gave everybody the day off to volunteer,” said Susan Israel, a Fluke spokeswoman.
Along with about 40 Fluke workers putting together new-mom kits in the company auditorium, another 40 were helping at Camp Fire’s Camp Killoqua near Stanwood, Israel said. And there were about 50 Fluke volunteers cleaning up Jetty Island, plus 40 more helping at the NOAH (Northwest Organization for Animal Help) Center in Stanwood.
“It shows the commitment the company has to the community,” said Jon Douyard, Fluke’s chief financial officer. Douyard helped put together kits, then loaded them into his SUV for transport to United Way’s Everett offices.
The 260 kits created Friday — half with books and information in English, half in Spanish — will be distributed at the Providence Pavilion for Women &Children, the Cocoon House Maternity Group Home, and through the YWCA, Matsumoto said.
Along with the classic children’s book by Eric Carle, diapers and some personal items, the kits included information about resources and early childhood development.
One flier explains Help Me Grow Washington, a free service for children up to age 5. It offers developmental screening, activities that support learning, referrals for early intervention, and resources related to health care and food assistance.
The program is part of WithinReach, formerly Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies, which runs hot lines, coalitions, and the ParentHelp123 and WashingTeenHelp websites. The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation and the Bill &Melinda Gates Foundation are major contributors to WithinReach.
“Ask Now, Babies &Kids Can’t Wait” is another pamphlet included in the new-mom kits. The pamphlet, from Snohomish County and the state’s Department of Early Learning, includes a board-game style journey of early child development. It begins at 0-6 months with “Lift head and chest while on stomach,” and concludes with “Plays make-believe with dolls, animals and people” at age 3.
United Way signaled its new emphasis on serving whole families at its Spirit Summit in June. The two-generation approach is changing the way the agency makes grants by asking that those seeking money form partnerships to boost the stability of families with children up to age 8.
According to U.S. Census population estimates, 10.2 percent of Snohomish County’s nearly 740,000 people were living below the federal poverty level in 2015, but for children under 5 it was 15.3 percent.
“This is part of a bigger, 1,000-kit project,” said Diana Juarez, United Way’s senior manager of engagement and volunteerism. She told the Fluke volunteers they were so efficient, they may get an invitation to United Way’s board room — to put together more kits.
Marysville’s Maureen Mallonee, a Day of Caring volunteer, has worked 30 years for Fluke. She has contributed financially to United Way for years, and is glad the company granted workers a day to give of their time.
“I very much appreciate the fact that my company supports United Way,” Mallonee said.
Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; email@example.com.