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From Senior Seminar to Non-Profit: The Baby Bureau Continues to Live on at Chestnut Hill College

From Senior Seminar to Non-Profit: The Baby Bureau Continues to Live on at Chestnut Hill College

Chestnut Hill College is currently hosting a collection drive for the Baby Bureau, a non-profit organization which was started by an alum from the School of Continuing and Professional Studies program. You can read Fran Wasserman's story below as well as find information about how you can support this wonderful organization and take part in the collection drive.

In 2011, as part of her senior seminar project, Fran Wasserman ’11 SCPS turned her passion for service and desire to help underserved moms and their babies into the Baby Bureau, a non-profit with a heartwarming goal – to dress those babies in new or gently worn clothing. Fran Wasserman, founder/director of The Baby Bureau (left), along with volunteers, organize “baby bundles” of clothing.

The first clothing drive was held at Chestnut Hill College and the first funding for the Baby Bureau came from a $500 check Wasserman received from the Religious of the Assumption, as the winner of the St. Marie Eugenie Milleret Award. The award is presented annually to a student in the School of Continuing and Professional Studies (SCPS) who exemplifies values of dignity, character, passion, humility, intelligence and vision.

“Chestnut Hill College helped me launch the Baby Bureau without even blinking an eye,” Wasserman said. “In a lot of ways, the Baby Bureau was born here.”

During a 2006 volunteer trip to work with Hurricane Katrina victims, Wasserman realized it was time to put her community service goals into action. When she returned, she discovered CHC.

“I didn’t live far and the program with night classes suited my needs,” she said, “and I had heard great things about it, a lot of great things.”

While investigating the program, she met Elaine Green, dean of SCPS, and Mary Ann Borek, student services liaison, who have been ardent supporters of the project since its beginning, and who Wasserman calls her “earth angels.”

With the early help of Green and Borek (who continue to send donations including handmade blankets) as well as her entire SCPS family, Wasserman was able to deliver her first baby bundle to the Montgomery Department of Health. The bundle consisted of 10 to 15 items of seasonally appropriate clothing, including onesies, shoes, sleepers and hats. Working from her home, Wasserman delivered almost 70 bundles the first year.

Today, Wasserman works out of donated space with weekly volunteers. The bundles comprise close to 30 outfits and over 3,100 have been delivered to mothers and their babies in need of a little helping hand.

“I never imagined when we delivered that first bundle that this would become so big,” Wasserman said. “We’re growing, really growing, and we are so fortunate that the community has embraced the project and the babies.”

Wasserman is grateful for the community support, including donations of washers and dryers from Gerhard’s Appliances; her partnership with Project Linus, which provides many of the baby blankets; Oliver D. Frazier, who re-conditions baby shoes free of charge; Upper Dublin High School National Honor Society, which adopted the project; Abington Hospital and its newborn center, which receives 30-40 bundles a month; and of course, Chestnut Hill College, which continues to host collection drives for the organization every year.

Wasserman is especially grateful for the work of the local knitting and quilting groups, Main Line Quilters and Gail’s Nifty Knitters, as well as the first knitting group she worked with – the Religious of the Assumption. 

“When I won the award and was writing my thank you letter, I saw that they knitted and told them how much I would love some knitted things,” Wasserman said. “That was years ago and I still get a box every few months. I can’t say enough about the Religious of the Assumption. Everything has come full circle.

For Wasserman, it all comes back to Ubuntu, a philosophy she became familiar with through one of her volunteers. It’s a philosophy that you can see championed in Wasserman’s own life and in the amazing work done by the Baby Bureau.

“I am because you are, I am because of the community,” Wasserman said. “The Baby Bureau is because of the community. I love that. I love that a lot.”

How to Support the Baby Bureau Clothing Drive

Chestnut Hill College is currently hosting a collection drive for the Baby Bureau. Members of the college community are invited to drop off new or gently used items including baby clothes, new receiving blankets, new rattles, new board books, baby shoes, and Dreft (high efficiency) detergent.  Donations can be brought to Mary Ann Borek's office. On December 1st and 8th, the College will host two public drives, inviting anyone who wants to come with a donation. Donations can be dropped off in the lobby of Fournier Hall. For more information about The Baby Bureau visit www.thebabybureau.org. For information about the clothing drive contact Mary Ann Borek at 215.242.7706 or borekm@chc.edu

Posted In: Alumni News