'Royal baby shower' benefits families in need

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Wearing stylish hats befitting a majestic gathering, local ladies celebrated Princess Kate and Prince William’s upcoming royal birth this summer at a tea party and charity baby shower. Hosted by the Fairfield Public Library, guests were asked to donate baby gifts that would be given to the Center for Women and Families of Eastern Fairfield County, a nonprofit organization that provides services and programs for those affected by sexual assault and domestic violence.

Jane Siefert, the library’s publicist, said a variety of baby items, worth a total of more than $2,000, were received. Among the gifts were handmade hats, bibs and socks, diapers, even infant sunglasses.

Debra Greenwood, executive director of the Center for Women and Families, said she was overwhelmed by the patrons’ generosity. All of the gifts would be distributed among women and children who currently live in the center’s safe house and to those who attend its programs.

“We have six babies and one little girl is only two weeks old,” Greenwood said. “We see lots of toddlers and infants every single day, though, and all of these wonderful gifts are very appreciated.”

Before tea was served, guest speaker and local author Linda Howard Urbach of Black Rock read excerpts from MOMoirs, The Umbilical Cord Stops Here. This humorous memoir details the months before her only child, Charlotte, receives her learning permit and begins to drive.

“I knew the minute Charlotte got her driver’s license, she would drive right out of my life,” Urbach explained.

A writer by trade, Urbach decided to capture this significant rite of passage with journal entries that reflected every mother’s ambivalence about her children growing up.

Urbach shared how surprised she felt when Charlotte first brought up the topic of driving.

“I thought, ‘Where did the time go? Where did her baby teeth go?’” Urbach said.

As Urbach spoke, photos depicting several real-life mothers and children from noble families in Europe were projected on a screen. There were many faces that Americans easily recognized, such as Princess Diana of Wales, and her sons, Prince William and Prince Harry.

Because she was born in Great Britain, Gloria Roach, of Fairfield, was most likely familiar with all of the royal families depicted. Although she raised her family in the United States, they are fascinated by the royal family and commemorate special events, such as Prince William’s wedding.

“We had a royal wedding party when Kate and Will got married two years ago,” said Sue Monroe, Roach’s daughter.

A resident of Stratford, Monroe eagerly accepted her mother’s invitation to the Fairfield Library’s baby shower and tea in honor of Princess Kate.

They also had a good time shopping for the occasion.

“Everyone loves buying baby things,” Monroe said. “It makes you feel so happy.”

Both mother and daughter said they enjoyed Urbach’s talk, too.

“Everything she said was so true,” said Monroe. “Every mother has experienced exactly what she wrote about. We could all relate to her stories.”

Rosalynd Gordon, 91, and her friend Phillis Gonzalez, both of Bridgeport, said they attended the party because they like to get “dressed up and having a good time,” Gordon said.

Gordon recently became acquainted with the Fairfield Public Library when she read its “One Book, One Town” selection, Wonder by R.J. Palacio. Moved by its themes of tolerance and acceptance, Gordon wrote to the author to share a bullying experience that she had more than 75 years ago. Palacio spoke about Gordon during her appearance at the Quick Center at Fairfield University, and Gordon’s letter is going to be included in a special collector’s edition of Wonder that is scheduled to be released.

“When I called Jane [Siefert] to tell her about this, she let me know there would be another fun event coming up,” Gordon said.

At the beginning of the party, Siefert introduced Mary Sorhus, the Fairfield Library’s head of children’s services, who was standing in for Princess Kate. Described as “the honorary royal mother,” Sorhus is pregnant and due to give birth around the same time as Princess Kate in July.

Hot tea and finger sandwiches were served at the royal tea and charity baby shower.

“I love how our community came together for this,” said Siefert. “I think we might have to do this type of thing more often.”

The Fairfield Public Library will continue to collect baby gifts for the Center for Women and Families. Patrons are asked to drop them off at the library in care of Siefert. Information is available at 203-256-3160.

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