Every Friday a group of ladies gather at the dining hall at The Bay Club in Mattapoisett for lunch, enjoying a nice meal, a few rounds of LCR (Left Center Right), and each other’s company. This past Friday, August 24, these luncheon ladies gathered as they usually do, but this time there was an extra table for some special guests – some teddy bears and some soft, stuffed lambs, who themselves didn’t have much to say in terms of a conversation. The silent presence of those stuffed animals that day did, however, say plenty about the women who brought them there and of the woman who ‘invited’ them.
Wendy Russo, a Bay Club resident and member of the ladies’ lunch group got an email one day from Bridgette Flynn from Southcoast Health, who told Russo about an effort to provide baby gift baskets to babies born with opioid addictions at Southcoast hospitals. According to Flynn, every month about 10 opioid-addicted babies are born at Southcoast hospitals, roughly 150 a year. The doctors and nurses care for the babies until they are released into foster care, leaving the hospital, sadly, without any belongings of their own.
Russo didn’t like the thought of that at all. She approached her fellow luncheon ladies right away and asked if they would join her in putting together baby gift baskets filled with those essentials every baby needs – receiving blankets, onesies, baby bunting, bottles, booties – the usual items found in a newborn’s nursery.
“They all responded,” said Russo graciously.
Russo recalled when she first approached Janet Granere, also of Mattapoisett, who enthusiastically said she would love to help.
“It was a special idea,” said Grenere. “I did it because I think it’s a very nice thing.”
Each lady filled bags and baskets with all the items on the list. “And we took it upon ourselves to add some other things, too,” said Russo, who fell in love with the soft, cuddly stuffed lambs that, when you wind them up, play “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” their white, fleecy heads swaying slowly back and forth. She topped off her gift baskets, each with a little lamb.
The baskets and bags were like a mountain of soft pink and blue hues, with a little green mixed in from Mattapoisett resident Anne Downey’s bag; after all, as Russo pointed out, “She’s the ‘ambassador of Ireland.’”
Representatives from Southcoast Health were there to receive the gift baskets, and thanked the women for their gesture of kindness.
“These babies never had a baby shower, and nobody painted them a nursery,” said Russo. “We don’t know who these babies are,” continued Russo, but they do know that these babies will at least leave the hospital and enter the world with blankets, booties, and little stuffed lambs – belongings of their very own, served with a side of love from the luncheon ladies of The Bay Club.
By Jean Perry