Once upon a time, there was a group of women meeting in the Grand Rapids, Michigan area. They met for close to ten years with various leaders and under various names. In the year 2013, there was some new energy in the group and by late summer a new group was born. This is the story of BWI of Grand Rapids.
BWI of Grand Rapids serves the Greater Grand Rapids area and has members from all counties surrounding Kent county (Muskegon, Ottawa, Allegan, Barry, Ionia, Montcalm, Mecosta, and Newaygo). They meet in Grand Rapids and Holland on a monthly basis.
The chapter has ten educators, all who have varying backgrounds and experiences, including an Advanced Babywearing Educator and a Master Babywearing Educator. Many of their educators have gone through pregnancies at the same time. During 2014, four of their educators had babies, and three moms are already expecting this year. Fun fact: In 2013 the group’s leadership had four boys all born within days of each other.
After BWI of Grand Rapids affiliated, they experienced amazing growth. Kathy Low – who not only is President and Treasurer of the chapter, but is also a Master Babywearing Educator and serves on the BWI Board of Directors – says “We have grown from a tiny Facebook group of 75 to over 1,000 members. We have over 150 Sustaining Members who enjoy discounts to local business and services as well as the ability to borrow from our lending library. Our community is wide and varied and we welcome all caregivers interested in babywearing.” Because of this growth, the needs of the chapter’s library are ever shifting. Chapter librarian and educator Janet Velting says, “Ring slings and woven wraps are always pretty popular. During the snowy winter months, we have had a lot of interest in our soft structured carriers like the Beco Gemini, Líllébaby, and the CatBirdBaby Pikkolo for their adjustable bases that accommodate both smaller and larger babies.”
One of the things that BWI of Grand Rapids does in its Facebook group that is really popular with members is called Monday Mixer (with hashtags #mondaymixer and #bwiofgr). This is an opportunity for members to share photos and tell about themselves. It’s like a virtual meet and greet and helps create a sense of community.
Currently, the chapter meets three times a month. Two meetings are in Grand Rapids – one on a weekday and one during the weekend. The third meeting is in Holland and is also a weekday meeting. Last week they hosted a tandem wearing event and enjoyed working with many caregivers in need of wearing more than one child. They are also planning some more social events during the warmer months.