PEPS is Toasted in Greenwood
~ By Meg Butterworth | Photos: Good Cause Beer Tasting
It was a warm summer evening, the perfect kind for enjoying a cold beer when I met with Heather Winter at Naked City Brewery and Taphouse, a local watering hole for the Greenwood resident. Taking advantage of the nice weather and a little time away from her husband and two-year-old daughter, Penelope (Penny), Heather and I enjoyed some local brew while she shared her PEPS story and desire to give back.
Heather first heard of PEPS from some friends who were one of the first in her peer group to take the dive into parenthood. Once Heather had Penny, she and her husband John signed up for an evening couples group. With family in WI and CA, she and John were eager to find people to connect with as new parents. As Heather put it, “we sought a crew of people to connect with and ask for advice.”
Their PEPS group ended up being that and so much more. Along with the usual challenges of adapting to parenthood, Heather and John also faced the taxing experience of caring for an infant with colic and acid reflux. Heather confided “Penny cried a lot during her first four months.” Heather recounted one fraught-ridden night when she and John decided to take Penny to the ER after a day of nonstop crying. Certain that something must be bothering her outside of her colic and acid reflux they made the trip to the ER only to be given a diagnosis of “fussy infant” by the doctor. Penny finally did settle down after being given some sugar water and a pacifier (one of the few times such remedies proved effective). Even as her tiny system improved, it wasn’t until around eight or nine months that she started sleeping six hours at night.
Heather described spending long days, caring for Penny, going through the almost robotic motions of holding her, feeding her and trying to settle her only to reach the evening, when Penny’s fussiness heightened. PEPS was a bright spot during those long days for both, Heather and John. Being able to leave the house and be around other people and other babies was extremely helpful. She and John were at first self-conscious about Penny’s constant crying during their PEPS meetings. She was the only baby in the bunch with colic. Their concerns were soon alleviated. They found the other parents to be non-judgmental and very supportive. “Everyone seemed to be there to just celebrate the highs and commiserate on the lows.”
Heather fondly recalled one session when a friend complimented her and her husband on the way they reacted to Penny’s crying. She went on to say that you could tell a lot about a parent by how they react to their child’s cries. Heather said, “It was so nice to know the group wanted us there even with Penny’s crying.”
Although their PEPS group no longer meets on a weekly basis, they still find time for mom’s nights and dad’s nights as well as the occasional group trip, including a family getaway to Leavenworth.
Benefiting from such a positive support system to help them through a trying time, Heather looked for a way to give back to PEPS.
With limited time to facilitate a group or take on other volunteer roles, she decided to host a fundraising party after reading in the PEPS newsletter about the fundraising parties other PEPS parents have hosted.
As a patron of Chuck’s Hop Shop in Greenwood, Heather was familiar with their “Good Cause Beer Tasting” nights held each Wednesday. After talking to them about PEPS Chuck’s agreed to feature them as their charity of the week in June. Heather found the whole process very easy to organize. Chuck’s picked the brewery to feature that week, Reverend Nat’s Hard Cider from Portland, and organized for a rep to come in for the tasting. PEPS advertised on their website, newsletter and on Facebook. Heather sent out emails to her friends. Although the cider tasting was free donations to PEPS were encouraged. The PEPS staff also helped Heather put together a raffle held at the end of the evening. Prizes included gift cards from local vendors, tickets to PEPSapolooza and PEPS tote bags. The tasting was from 6-8pm and was a big success. Not only did Heather’s PEPS group come but folks from other PEPS groups showed up thanks to the extensive PEPS social network! Even a group of mom’s on a night out stopped by to check out the action. The grand tally for the event came to more than $450.
Not only did Heather have a ton of fun at the cider tasting, she enjoyed working with Chuck’s Hop Shop and PEPS to pull it off. This was the perfect way for her to show her support for the organization that has supported her and John over the past two years. She would encourage other PEPS members to look into local businesses that might be interested in playing a role in a PEPS fundraiser. With the PEPS staff ready and willing to help take care of logistics it’s a great way for businesses to market themselves while also supporting their community. She hopes her story will inspire others to find a small way to give back to PEPS.
The long days and nights of endless crying have passed, and Penny is now a smiling, active and happy toddler who brings great joy to her parents. Her development and growth amaze Heather and John each and every day. Towards the end of our evening Heather shared that her patience and flexibility increased tremendously as a result of those early months with Penny. Everything passes in life and there are lessons to be learned from it all.
Meg Butterworth lives in NW Seattle with her husband and two children. She joined PEPS in 2006 and still meets with her group to celebrate and share in all of parenting’s joys, surprises, challenges and curveballs.
She enjoys writing, cooking, gardening and catching up on all of her favorite shows while the kids are in bed. She has volunteered for PEPS as a group facilitator, fundraiser and more recently as a contributor to the PEPS Newsletter.