Women Veterans Program Manager Rosemary Balaguer (right) presents a baby stroller to Veteran Jessica Goodell during West Palm VA Medical Center's Baby Shower on August 6. Photo by Joanne Deithorn, Medical Media.
By Kenita Tills, Public Affairs Officer
Tuesday, August 11, 2020
West Palm Beach, FL - Prepping for baby is no small feat – especially during a pandemic. But the team at the West Palm Beach VA Medical Center made sure there were plenty of gifts, congratulatory banners, and smiles during its very first Drive Thru Baby Shower for Veterans on August 6.
Expectant moms from around South Florida and along the Treasure Coast were celebrated during the event which was spearheaded by Women Veterans Program Manager Rosemary Balaguer, PA-C and her team.
This baby shower is one of several that the medical center has hosted over the past 11 years.
The West Palm Beach VA held its first Drive Thru Baby Shower for female Veterans on August 6. Veteran Erika Lynch smiles through her mask as she holds gifts for her new bundle of joy. Photo by Joanne Deithorn, Medical Media.
While the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted customary celebrations in the U.S., Balaguer and her team saw the situation as a unique opportunity to showcase VA’s continued support for Veterans.
“We are truly living in unprecedented times in this country which has increased our Veteran moms’ need for support and resources,” she said. “I’m grateful to our Veterans for their service and our team wanted to make sure they felt supported - especially during these uncertain times.”
More than 25 Veterans received brand new items for their new or future bundles of joy. The gifts ranged from diaper bags filled with baby goods, clothes and toys to hand-knitted blankets and even strollers for the moms-to-be. In a time when social interaction is limited for public safety reasons, both the medical center’s leadership team and Veterans were ecstatic to engage in such a positive exchange.
Melissa Perkins (U.S. Air Force Veteran) checks out her new baby gifts during West Palm Beach VA Medical Center's drive thru baby shower on August 6. Photo by Joanne Deithorn, Medical Media.
U.S. Air Force Veteran Melissa Perkins was one of the expectant moms honored during the event. Perkins, who has attended a previous VA Baby Shower, is expecting her second child – a baby girl.
“While this year was a bit different due to the circumstances the VA did an outstanding job,” she said. “They went out of their way [when] they could have easily cancelled this event. They loaded everything and I am sure they had smiles behind their masks. They were genuinely excited to be out there and [were] super friendly.”
Donors from around the area contributed to the event including Homefront Girl, Ibis Knitting for Charity, Ibis Friends Of Veterans, Red Cross, Daughters of the American Revolution, the Greater West Palm Beach Women’s Club, SandDollar, Valencia Shores Women's Club and Operation 120. The event’s planning committee and volunteers included VA staff members Jennifer Trendov, Joanne Deithorn and Jacqueline McDonald, RN and Disabled American Veterans Service Officer Latasha Brown.
For more photos of last week’s event visit the West Palm Beach VA Medical Center’s Flickr page. For more information about Women Veterans Health Care at VA visit www.womenshealth.va.gov.