When I was cruising the internet 10 years ago searching for the perfect canine companion, I looked forward to having a fuzzy head keep my feet warm on the couch and planned the cool tricks I would teach my new pal. I also started jogging a few weeks in advance, so that I would be in better shape to tire out an energetic young dog (ha!). I researched food, off-leash areas, doggy daycares and dog walkers.
What I didn’t realize was that over the years, I would get to know every tree and front flower garden in the neighborhood. I’ve learned where the dogs live and where the cats like to hide. While Tica sniffs, I read the “for sale” and “lost bike” signs on the telephone poles. We’ve watched babies grow into kindergardeners. Walking with Tica has shaped the way I interact with my community.
I enjoy casual (and sometimes lengthier) conversations with neighbors—mostly those who spend a lot of time outside, like the dog owners and avid gardeners. Walking with a dog provides an opening for conversation, sort of a secret handshake. People stop and smile and start conversations. People reach into their pockets (or go into their houses) to share a treat with Tica. We exchange cookies during the holidays and keep an eye on each other’s homes on vacation.
It shouldn’t have surprised me that growing a baby brings out the same responses in people. I’m getting to know an entirely different group of neighbors—the grandmas, the moms without dogs, older kids who feel safe making eye contact with a mom-to-be. The always friendly library staff and Red Apple cashiers are absolutely bubbly. People who usually walk quickly from their car to the front door linger on the sidewalk to say hello, ask how I’m doing, or offer baby items. I’m amazed by the generosity of our neighborhood. Thank you to all the neighbors who’ve shared baby items, support, and yummy snacks!
Here are some Beacon Hill area parenting resources and places to donate or sell your baby/kid gear. More experienced parents, please add your suggestions in the comments.
Have you ever searched “Beacon Hill” on craigslist? I’ve gotten several baby items in perfect condition at a great price. Best of all, I got to meet new neighbors with kids, within walking distance of home!
Baby food, formula, and diapers are always welcome at both of our neighborhood food banks:
Beacon Ave Food Bank, 6230 Beacon Avenue South, (206) 722-5105.
If you’d like to donate children’s items or know a family in need, Wellspring Family Services operates the Baby Boutique. Their “urgent needs” wishlist includes: carseats, maternity clothes, shoes, and personal care items (shampoo, lotion, etc). The Baby Boutique serves kids of all ages, from newborn to teenager. Baby Boutique accepts donations on the following days and times: Tuesday 10:00 am – 7:00 pm; Wednesday thru Friday 10:00 am – 3:00 pm; 2nd and 4th Saturday of the month 10:00 am – 2:00 pm; or call 206-902-4270 to set up an appointment. Due to limited space, they cannot accept items larger than cribs or toddler beds.
I’m just getting started with the North Beacon Hill Parents yahoo group. It seems to be a good place to give away/sell kid items and post questions about everything from preschools to replacing old wood windows. I’m looking forward to interacting more with this group.
If you have pet items you’d like to donate, consider these resources:
Seattle Humane Society offers assistance to low income pet owners.
Rainier Veterinary Hospital is not a non-profit, but they do help people and pets in need. 815 Rainier Avenue South, (206) 324-4144.