Dawn Fung, a mother of two, started a Facebook group called Baby Warehouse that allows members to unconditionally give and receive maternity and baby items. Members range from single mothers to social workers. This has grown into a community that meets needs online and off. This extract is from Fung’s personal account on her website, Rebekah’s Room, which lets the Baby Warehouse community tell its stories.
Baby Warehouse was created out of a belief that there are enough resources in this world for everyone. We believe moms and babies shouldn’t lack, and given that the young ones grow so fast, passing things better serves both parties. The last time I checked, Baby Warehouse had 170 members. I am pleasantly stunned by how needs are being met by a simple idea of “pass it on.”
You know what, though? As a mother, teacher figure, and connector, I love relational growth, and if I can figure a way for people to bond or get to know each other in a healthy, inspirational and impactful way, I will do it. So 170 members remain numbers. Numbers denote some type of popularity and use, but not relationships, even though the group adds via “friends.” In an age where the word “friend” is used loosely, I wonder at the lost potential for authentic relationships simply because we have stopped trying to know people for who they are—unique and purposeful, and not just for what they can offer.
In creating Rebekah’s Room, I hope to bring alive a meaningful awareness that Baby Warehouse members are moms and dads each with a story to tell. That story is going to create some understanding of a person behind his or her photo next to a post. That story will also throw out superficial assumptions by, I hope, real sharing of real lives, and not always in context of babies! And Rebekah’s Room is named after a special baby girl of a couple I know, because her birth was such a timely gift for them and their community.
Do you think it is possible for this to remain after you leave, or “graduate” from the group?
I think the most important thing to safeguard in Baby Warehouse is the beauty of unconditional offer. Giving and receiving without strings attached is dangerous. It causes people to be uncomfortable with a long-term idea of sustenance. I know how small non-profit groups start out: very pure, generous, and sacrificial; long-term survival for its expansion tends to sully its initial efforts to be the alternative to corporations to reach unmet needs, usually those that are financially unable.
Baby Warehouse can and should remain unconditionally free, but it takes some offense on the part of the administrator to be strict with guidelines, and not be apologetic to let new and existing members remember its purpose. I think it would be a shame if parents (usually the demography) who sign up should find something different from what is stated. I often imagine the future demography to include the richest person who loves to give, and the poorest person who needs to receive. If Baby Warehouse maintains its stand on unconditional offer, and the new administrators hold onto this simple dream, I think no one would regret being part of it.
I will say at this point that the members have been stellar—nobody has been a covert salesman. I have had to delete two posts but they were genuinely out of point, and the two members took it well (this is how adults can be amiable!). Genuine discussions on pregnancy and baby care draw relevant answers. And as an active member myself, I was touched by how someone would drive to drop off a pack of diapers for my convenience. This is not just charity. This is real community, and it is sorely missing from the hyper-consumerist world.
How does “family” come into play in the two things you started, besides obvious reasons such as, you have a baby?
Family is a beautiful word for me. I think associated keywords like “legacy,” “connection,” “timeless,” and “membership” will always pop into my meditation. A baby naturally completes a picture because he or she represents the future, and connects the keywords succinctly.
Baby Warehouse is like that part of the home, perhaps the living room, that encourages you to stay and start conversations, whereas Rebekah’s Room is the bedroom that reveals a personality type more intimately. So these two are spaces for family life to occur. I think there are other rooms worth checking out but I don’t know what they look like. Perhaps we may do special Baby Warehouse outings, or people may organically connect through passing items, and wish to meet up more? There are possibilities but not all are mine to fulfill.
What is one thing you would like to leave with readers?
First, I would like to share a personal story. While giving birth to my second child, my uterus inverted, I went into shock, and they had 15 minutes before a tragedy occurred. That my daughter is called Hope was not ironic, but prophetic.
The Bible says in Romans 5:5, “And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love” (NLT). In this context, the hope refers to Jesus Christ, who died and rose again to reunite us to God the Father eternally. And in my context, the metaphor of giving birth—close to death—recovery to life, helped me to understand how special my daughter’s name is, and reunited me with an earthly family that I did not want to separate from. I remembered thinking, and crying alone on the hospital bed, for God to lengthen my life because it was too soon, and both my children were so young. I felt like Hezekiah from the book of Kings.
The threat of taking something away before its time is sudden, and fearful—it should not happen, because it is not normal. Abnormal events cause us to rethink what should be, and to avoid it at any cost. My near-death experience taught me to protect life well, and avoid unhealthy speculations of separation, abandonment and other foolish acts of selfishness.
My one piece advice then would be this: You exist because two people came together, whether foolishly, intentionally or traumatically. Somehow you were allowed the gift of life while others were denied. So you, who carry the weight of life, have a responsibility to revere it, until it ends.
If you would like to join the group, email email@example.com. They are based in Singapore and so passing of items will only happen within Singapore.