A 4-month old baby grins at his young mother for the first time. “The mother came from terrible circumstances at home, wanted this child but had never had good parenting modeled for her,” said Kathryn Sneckner, executive director of Choices, a nonprofit organization that provides support for young people with unplanned or crisis pregnancies.
Before finding a mentor at Choices, the mother had not made eye contact or bonded with the infant. “In our parenting classes the baby would sit in the infant seat and stare off into space,” Sneckner said.
To demonstrate the critical nature of bonding, the mentor held and talked to the baby before handing the child to his mother. “When the mother spoke to the baby and looked him in the eye, his face lit up in a grin for the first time,” Sneckner said. “The mentor got to be a part of watching the child and mother bond in a way they had never done before.”
The parenting program helps build relationships while teaching young people the skills to care for a child.
Choices, with offices in Woodland Park and Cripple Creek, relies on donations and fundraisers to continue programs that include, in addition to emotional support in a time of unplanned pregnancies, parenting and fatherhood classes and a baby boutique.
“Our teen pregnancy rate is declining, but we’re doing a better job of reaching people,” Sneckner said. “We work really hard to connect with the high schools and community organizations.”
To help fund Choices’ programs, a team of volunteer crafters and artists has established a Woodland Park tradition, the Rocky Mountain Christmas Boutique.
Initiated by Dianna McMillan and Bonnie Morse, the boutique leads the parade of craft shows in the region with a Nov. 1 date. “There are many talented people around here, lots of craft fairs,” McMillan said. “So we’re looking for more unique things, different from the usual.”
The crafters include a group of home-schooled students who are part of the 4-H program. “Last year, the girls were sitting with their legs flopping on the stage at the cultural center, just knitting up a storm,” Morse said. “It was the cutest thing.”
Table runners, American Girl doll clothes, aprons, hair ornaments, wine-bottle covers, baby clothes and paintings are just some of the offerings that continue to attract crowds of holiday shoppers.
In addition to crafting most of the year for the Choices’ fundraiser, McMillan and Morse volunteer with the organization.
The boutique is from noon to 7 p.m. Nov. 1 and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 2 at the Ute Pass Cultural Center.
Jayson Baker’s Peak Internet sponsors the event that donates 100 percent of the proceeds to Choices’ programs.