Sewickley group aims to make life a little easier for families of newborns
As president of Newcomers and Neighbors of Sewickley, Andrea Hopkins-Green has been there when a young mother couldn't get to the store for supplies and when a new mother and father didn't have time to cook an evening meal.
Now, she is appreciating those acts of kindness in a way she never realized she would. Hopkins-Green, 36, and her husband, Cornell, 38, of Sewickley, are grateful for the support they've been given by the club's Helping Hands committee since having their daughter, Talia Rose, who is one month old this Mother's Day weekend.
Since Talia Rose was born, members have been bringing food to the family and offering emotional support.
“You realize that your priorities have completely changed. It's learning how to manage your time and how much faster you need to do things. As a new mom, you need to realize that you need to rely on friends or family to answer questions, to be there for you, to help when you are tired,” she said.
When sleep comes in small intervals or she's not aware of how hungry she really is, Hopkins-Green is reminded through Helping Hands that she doesn't have to face this unexplored territory alone. She explained if there is a member of the group — which now numbers 90 — who needs help, or an emotional lift, the others do all they can, from meal assistance or trips to the store to answering questions about feedings or diaper rash or offering gift cards.
“People you might not talk to on a regular basis reach out and just say, ‘I'm here if you need me.'”she said.
Her family has had takeout delivered from a local bistro, a homemade dinner of chicken in white wine sauce brought to the door and even had leftovers for the next day when she could grab a bite between her baby's feedings. “Now, I see why the other moms we helped were so grateful for these types of things,” she said.
Most of Hopkins-Green's thoughts now are wrapped up in the new experience of motherhood.
“You realize you have this beautiful little baby, and everything is just so new — how they look at things. After nine months of knowing you were pregnant but not understanding what that means, you have a little person. You're creating memories. There's so much to look forward to now,” she said.
One of those things is celebrating Mother's Day, which, for her, has taken on a new meaning.
“Now when I think about Mother's Day, even more than I did before, I appreciate all of the things that my mom does and has done. It's not just about getting a gift or taking her to brunch. It's not only about what I want to do for my own mom but for my little girl, to celebrate that,” she said.
Hopkins-Green joined Newcomers and Neighbors seven years ago at a friend's urging. She has been president for two years and on its board before then.
“It's funny now. I joined specifically to go to the progressive dinner — as a social thing,” she said.
But as the years went on, the Sewickley native began to understand the benefit of the group to people who came into the area.
“A lot of the women talked about how it was their lifeline and helped them as they came into town. I take more for granted because I'm from here, but when you are moving here new, it's harder to find connections. I wanted to give back more,” she said.
It's a sentiment shared by Aimee St. Germain, 32, of Sewickley, who along with husband Nathan has a 4-month-old daughter, Noelle.
St. Germain considers herself lucky because her husband was transitioning to owning his own business when their baby was born, but in the weeks when he was getting back to work, Helping Hands was “amazing,” she said.
“We had one less thing to worry about. It was nice to have someone cooking for us. It was fun, too, to see what different dishes we hadn't tried that people would bring over.”
She said she one day will encourage her daughter to join Newcomers and Neighbors. “Helping Hands especially because they helped me even more than I imagined, and it made me more motivated to pay it back in some way,” she said.
She said with a range of ages from 20s to 50s, there is a wealth of advice to be found on motherhood — or just about any subject, for people moving to Sewickley for the first time and for those returning after a long time away.
“It's nice to have a group of people to call friends, to rely on, who you aren't tied to just through work or church,” she said.
Hopkins-Green would like to tell her daughter now and have her remember that helping others is so important.
“Specifically for women, because it's not always about yourself,” she said. I'm passing down what my mom, Roz, taught me about leading by example.”