By Deborah Bostock-Kelley

Sometimes it takes but a single act of compassion to begin a domino effect that lasts a lifetime.

In the 90s, Richedean Hills-Ackbar was a single mother and was given two baby showers by people wanting to help her in her time of need. She was so impacted by that kindness that she decided to assist other mothers on public assistance. 

In 2009, the inaugural “Annual Day of Pampering for Moms-To-Be” was birthed and now 10 years later, Richedean and volunteers from the community have touched the lives of 5000 expectant mommies through her nonprofit organization, Caregiver’s Helping Hand, Inc. 

From 10am to 2pm on Saturday, October 12, the nonprofit is pampering expectant mothers during its “Annual Day of Pampering for Moms-To-Be.”  

Hosted at New Mt. Zion MB Church and sponsored by Rebein Brothers Trail Lawyers, BJ’S Restaurants, Inc., The Wellements Family, Buffalo Wild Wings, and Sunshine Health, this special event, open to all Hillsborough County moms-to-be on public assistance, is celebrating a decade providing community baby showers. 

This year, Richdean expects over 250 women to attend the zoo-themed event. The event is also open to siblings with a Kids Zone bounce house and face-painting provided for them. Dads-to-be and Grandmas-to-be are also on the guest list. 

With horror stories in the news of infant abuse, Richedean provides this resource to help new inexperienced mothers learn now how to prepare for the responsibility of a newborn. As several new mothers don’t have a support network to rely upon and it is easy to become overwhelmed, Richedean brings in community speakers to help train and prepare the young mothers for the stress of having an infant. 

Richedean also advocates to leave a violent situation and to not leave a child with someone that could potentially harm the child. She wants to give young mothers a sense of independence. Something that may come easy for others – like balancing a budget – may be difficult for a mother without experience. 

New mothers dealing with financial hardship don’t necessarily know how to budget for buying diapers, or formula, if not breastfeeding.

“They often don’t know how to handle this new responsibility and I actually form a budget so that they can balance it,” she said. “I have someone coming to show them how to make baby food, and someone to show them how to budget their money.”

With vendors including Hillsborough County Children’s Board, Healthy Start Coalition, Warriors for Autism, Tampa Family Health Centers, Sunshine Health Plans and Molina Health Care, expectant moms will also enjoy complimentary food, baby shower cake, gifts and training classes in financial management, couponing, care and child safety for new parents and special classes for the dads sponsored by REACHUP. 

“The shower will include resources to different agencies that support parents and items new parents may need like book bags for the Dads filled with items needed for an outing like diapers, wipes, blankets, bottles and change of clothing,” said Richedean. “Mom Care, Reachup Incorporated, and Children’s Board of Hillsborough County have been supporting this event for 10 years and are just a few of the companies supporting us.”

Marilyn Westropp, Dr.Tracey Crocker, “The Job Coach” Margaret Debellotte, Dr.Romona Burrowes, and Pastor Laytecia McKinney will provide inspirational speaking for the expectant parents.

Pictures and belly painting, as well as massages by Bless These Hands round out the event to ensure expectant moms will receive a very special day of spoiling. 

“We are trying to give moms-to-be a good start to parenting their newborns by showing a little kindness in their time of need,” she said. “Someone once gave to me. I’m just giving back.” 

In addition to all the free services and gifts, Richedean herself creates diaper cakes filled with useful baby items which are raffled off for several of the lucky moms-to-be.

When asked what the most gratifying comment she’s heard from her guests over the last decade as the event and nonprofit founder, Richedean answered simply. “Thank you.”

Caregiver’s Helping Hand, Inc. accepts gently used and new items for newborns, babies, and toddlers. Items needed include newborn diapers, baby bags, pacifiers, socks, blankets, hats, t-shirts, headbands, rattles, bottles, teething toys, strollers, mobiles, baby wipes, lotion, shampoo, powder, crib sheets, baby swings, baby monitors, and bottle warmers, etc.

The “10th Annual Day of Pamper” is Saturday, October 8 at 10am-2pm at New Mt. Zion MB Church, 2511 E. Columbus Dr., Tampa. Guests can register on EventBrite at momstobe2019.eventbrite.com or text 813.431.1814. For more information, please contact Richedean Hills-Ackbar at caregiverstampa@gmail.com or via text/call (813) 431-1814.