Charlotte Hansen is one of those “can’t live without her” volunteers. She has been volunteering at Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services (SFBFS) in the Mother-Baby program for just over one year, and the program staff cannot imagine the program without her. “Her commitment to the Mother-Baby program is fantastic,” says Lorena Carranza, Mother-Baby program manger. “She does it all.”
Indeed, Charlotte wears many hats in the Mother-Baby program. She can be found on Mondays and Thursdays in the Mother-Baby clothing area, sorting baby clothing, hanging items, talking to new mothers and babies, training volunteers, and more. You may also find her sitting down with a new parent in the mentoring room, making referrals, offering advice, and being a shoulder to lean on. On special event days, Charlotte is serving food, facilitating art projects with the kids, helping with set up, clean up and more. She is currently being trained to lead parent education classes on the use of cloth diapers. She really does it all. She has a pleasant and welcoming demeanor that makes everyone feel comfortable in the program.
“When I moved to Sacramento not too long ago, I wanted to find a worthwhile place to spend some time,” says Charlotte. An online search led her to the Mother-Baby program at SFBFS. Charlotte retired from a career in retail a few years back and came to Sacramento to spend time with her daughter’s family and new grandchild. “I love clothing and I love kids, so this sounded like a great fit,” she says. Charlotte is one of the first friendly faces that new clients see when they arrive to receive help with their brand-new babies. “It’s so nice to see people helping others. I enjoy being a part of that.” Families receive a generous supply of gently used and new baby clothing, maternity clothing, blankets, and other baby supplies. “They just can’t believe how much they are able to receive. It’s fun watching the kids pick out their own toys. Both mom and kids are so grateful,” she comments.
Charlotte’s current challenge is learning how to sew cloth diapers. The Mother-Baby program will soon offer a class teaching new parents how to sew their own cloth diapers for use at home. The moms will be able to take home all the diapers they sew in class. Charlotte has been experimenting with the pattern on her home sewing machine and is feeling confident that she’ll be able to teach the parents how to do it. The diapers are created by donated t-shirts and fabric scraps. “The response from the community is great,” she says. “We’re doing this because the parents want to learn how. It’s wonderful to see.”
For Charlotte, the joy of volunteering is creating a welcoming space for clients. “SFBFS fulfills important needs. It’s very family-oriented,” she says. Her focus is always making the families feel comfortable inside the Mother-Baby program. “We have a very happy environment here,” Charlotte says. Lorena agrees wholeheartedly, saying “Charlotte spreads love and compassion to the families enrolled in the Mother-Baby program. Everyone loves working with her because of her warm personality.”