“Welcoming new children into their homes and families is a warm and beautiful thing,” said Gretchen Elias of Good Beginnings at a recent Mad River Valley Rotary Club breakfast meeting, “but there are inevitable stresses and difficulties for parents and families as well.” Elias cited statistics showing that at least one in seven new mothers experience postpartum depression or anxiety. Economic pressures, lack of sleep and the new focus on a baby’s needs can be stressful for the whole family.
Good Beginnings specializes in helping parents and families adjust to a new baby. “There’s so much support and training available for childbirth,” Elias explained to Rotary Club members from around The Valley, “but what about after the baby is born? ‘Some parents arrive home asking “What do I do now?’”
About 75 volunteer “angels,” trained by Good Beginnings, are there to help. Many have raised their own children; all are prepared to help with day-to-day tasks and information about basic tasks from diaper-changing to managing household responsibilities. They can also help with mental health referrals if a parent feels like the whole thing is too much. Good Beginnings also helps organize support groups, where new parents can get together and share concerns, questions and experiences by Zoom.
“Gretchen obviously has great awareness and capability, and she and her staff are there to help wherever they are needed, including here in The Valley,” said Rotary president Peter Colgan after Elias’s presentation. “This year, Rotary is particularly focused on helping young families in The Valley and has channeled funding and hands-on labor to help Neck of the Woods start up its early childhood day care facility.” 
The Valley Rotary raises money through events such as the annual Mad River Duck Race (Labor Day weekend every year) and raffles – such as the current restaurant raffle, accessible online at https://mrvrotary.rallyup.com/raffle. Its members, supporters and sponsors, including most of the known businesses in The Valley from large to small, donate about $60,000 each year to local charities providing for human service needs, recreation and economic development and events.