Published October 23, 2003
The afternoon sun was hot and she needed to nurse her baby. The van was too far away to walk to, so this mother went to the only private place she could find: a stall in one of the fairground bathrooms.
The cement building smelled moldy and was only a little clean. Her baby didn't seem to mind, but his mother did.
Later she discovered the Baby Comfort Station - just down the row from the giant fiberglass elephant.
"Oh I wish I'd known about you this morning," she told volunteers.
The Baby Comfort Station is in its second year at the 10-day Georgia National Fair in Perry. Sponsored by the ten associations that make up the middle Georgia area, the ministry began last year with Clyde Evans, the area Ministry Resource Consultant.
"I had been praying that God would open the door to a viable ministry at the fair," Evans said. Then one day he found an article copied from Missions Mosaic magazine about a baby station.
"Joan Tripp, one of our WMU ladies, sent it to me. When I read it I knew this was the answer."
Evans talked to the eight associational missionaries (who oversee ten associations) in his area and they were all willing to contribute financially, as well as provide volunteers. Cost of the project would run about $4,000 each year, which included the $1,500 fee for a spot on the fairgrounds.
They designed the station to provide a private area for changing diapers and another private area for mothers to feed their babies. This year they have improved the area even more.
"Last year we almost died from the heat," Evans said. "This year we added air conditioning and it's made a big difference."
Volunteers also pass out free bottles of water to the families that stop by to use their facilities. They buy 40 pounds of ice a day just to keep the water bottles cold.
"It's a great ministry. They're so thankful for a clean, private spot. Then we give them a bottle of cold water and they want to know how much it is. They're amazed it's free, because nothing is free at the fair," said Martha Lewis, a volunteer from Shirley Hills Church in Warner Robbins.
But beyond cold water and a cool spot, volunteers also offer Bibles and Christian tracts.
"Many of the people (who use the baby station) already are Christians, but some are willing to listen or take a Bible. It's a good witness," Lewis said.
The only challenge the station faces is literally "getting on the map."
"Next year we hope to be on the official map the fair puts out. People just don't know we're here," Evans said.
But even without a map, more than 600 families, with more than 700 children, visited the station this year.
"That's a lot of people we're able to touch," Evans said.
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