By: Marlene Pryzner
It has been 40 years since the ministry founded by Thelma Wynne was aptly named “The Thelma Wynne Project” by the Women’s Commission of the Anglican Church. Some history and update on this baby layette project seems timely.
Mrs. Thelma Wynne was an active Anglican who, following the tragic loss of her daughter in 1947, became an integral leader in the Women’s Auxiliary of the Anglican Church of Canada. It was here that Mrs. Wynne became well known for her leadership and quiet kindness, especially to those facing many life challenges. She identified a community need to support new moms and infants and provide them with essential baby items. With Diocesan support, Mrs. Wynne mobilized countless church and community members for their sewing and crafting skills and financial support to acquire additional supplies for the baby layettes. She continued tirelessly with this ministry until 1981, when she had a debilitating stroke. There was a lull in the ministry for a few years until 1983 when the program was revived by the Women’s Commission of the Anglican Church. Mrs. Wynne was presented with The Order of Rupertsland in 1986 in recognition of her outstanding support and leadership in the Anglican Church of Canada. In 1992, Mrs. Thelma Wynne passed away but her legacy continues.
Today, with the support of the Diocese, the project’s home base is at St. Matthew’s in Winnipeg. Here, the layettes are assembled and either delivered or picked up by various family focused agencies in the city and rural locations. From September to May, the team of volunteers assembles layettes on a regular basis to ensure that the various agencies have a supply. In May, additional layettes for the summer months are provided until start up in September. Team members change over the years. Not so long ago, the coordinator of the project for well over ten years, Marlene Ramsay, passed away. Marlene and her family tirelessly kept the project running during Covid 19. Community need didn’t come to a halt during the pandemic.
The community support for this project is heartwarming. The supplies for this ministry come from “baby showers” hosted by various churches that rally support and display the donated items. We are also generously supported by quilters groups and knitting clubs. Beautiful handmade items add comfort to the package. Items like diapers and other essentials are purchased from generous donor funds when specific items in our supply cupboards become temporarily low. Spring is busy in the Church community and at The Thelma Wynne project as we receive boxes of items from the baby showers. Community groups have donated countless gently used items. We have a devoted group of crafters, who well into their senior years, are faithful supporters of the project.
Our layettes include a crib blanket, receiving or cuddle blanket (usually 30x 30), at least one sleeper, outfit with an additional onesie, a sweater or hoodie, hat, bib, socks or booties, Ivory soap, baby wipes, a small toy or stuffy and a small gift of toiletries for the mother. Each layette is assembled with items for babies from 3 to 12 months old and 10 diapers are included. Toddler items and newborn items, as available, are distributed to agencies to further support parents. Our primary contact is with the workers who directly assist the Moms and babies. Baby is wrapped in the kindness of others and Mom is provided a letter of support and encouragement. Presently, we assemble and distribute between 250 and 300 layettes annually.
Thank you for your continued support of this ministry.
Marlene Pryzner is a member of St. George’s Crescentwood. For many years, she has been involved with Mission and Ministry. In the fall of 2022, she became the coordinator of The Thelma Wynne project.