Games, lemonade, cookies and prizes were all available last Saturday, Sept. 21, as the Black Women’s Network held their first community baby shower. The event was set up like a regular baby shower and was open to women in the Emporia area who are expecting, or recently had, a child.
Headed by Rakiyha Wash, president of BWN and sophomore sociology major, the shower raised donations for a program called East Central Kansas Economic Opportunity Corporation (ECKAN).
“It’s a Head Start program. It actually facilitates services for zero to four years old,” Wash said. “I believe it’s an income-based program. My son actually utilizes it. It’s basically like pre-preschool.”
Wash said that she got the idea of the community baby shower from a former ESU student who said it had been fairly successful in other instances.
“This year, I kind of felt like the Black Women’s Network had faded out on campus,” Wash said. “I ran into a lot of people who didn’t know what the (Network) was.”
To fix that, she said marketing seemed liked the best option.
“I’m a mother myself, and I know how hard it can be sometimes with no support,” Wash said.
Candice Brooks, senior interdisciplinary studies major and a member of BWN, said the shower was for women who never had a baby shower.
“(Also) kind of (to) raise items to donate to some of the women who aren’t able to afford things for their children,” Brooks said.
Some of the items that were rounded up for donation included diapers, bottles, binkies, clothes, formula and a stroller. Items were gathered and taken to the Head Start building after the shower.
Prizes for attendees included gift baskets filled with goodies such as perfume, body wash, and face masks – items “to give yourself a little time,” Wash said.
The party had three main games, including a diaper-making competition, in which players had to make a semi-functional diaper out of toilet paper and pipe cleaners. Shay Davis, senior physical education major and a member of BWN, won the game and received a gift basket.
“I feel pretty protected,” Davis said.
Wash said that they are an organization for women with an emphasis on black women.
“We are an organization of women who get together to discuss things that are pertinent to women, and it does have a strong influence on being a black woman,” Wash said. “For me, it’s been a place where I can speak freely and not be judged.”