LOCK HAVEN - The Avenue 209 Coffee House on Bellefonte Avenue was recognized Wednesday by the Lycoming-Clinton Breastfeeding Coalition with a "family friendly" business award.
According to organization vice chairwoman Lisa McCloskey, a registered nurse and board-certified lactation consultant, an employee at the coffee shop went out of her way to make a new mother who needed to breast feed her newborn comfortable and welcomed, even though the store was about to close up.
"The barista, Sheena Hanley, allowed her to stay and feed her baby, making her feel welcome," McCloskey said.
The incident happened about three months ago, when Aly Lundy's baby was just a month old, McCloskey said.
Josh Grimes, coffeehouse co-founder, said when he helped write its business plan six years ago, "it was our mission to bless our community and create a safe place for families to go."
"We were honored and happy to receive that award," he said.
He lauded Hanley's compassion.
"Most of the praise should go to her," Grimes said. "I would hope we have a culture here that would make her feel comfortable to offer that."
Hanley, 21, said it was "no big deal" to allow the young mother to stay and feed her baby.
"They are regular customers here, and I still had stuff to do, so I said she could stay," Hanley said.
According to McCloskey, the coffee shop regularly welcomes families and nursing mothers.
"Apparently this young mother lives within walking distance of the shop and she spends a lot of time there because they have Internet and she and her husband don't have Internet at home," she said.
This is Lundy's first baby, and she had a difficult time getting started with breastfeeding, McCloskey said. However, after support from a visiting nurse and her mother, Lundy was able to do it but still is nervous to breast feed in public.
"In this situation she was welcomed," McCloskey said. "These small successes are so empowering to a mother."
Lundy, 22, said she was glad to be able to stay and feed her infant son Jonas, who had started fussing and crying.
"They just made us feel so comfortable," she said.
Lundy, who works as a customer service specialist at Beiter's Home Furnishings Store, also gets a lot of support from her employer and her family, especially her mother and husband, Tyrus, a student.
"He knows that I need to sleep so he gets up and diapers Jonas whenever needed, sometimes nine times a day," she said.
Lundy said she almost gave up breastfeeding after only three weeks because it was so difficult.
"My mom came to stay with me for three weeks to help and encourage me to keep going, " she said.
Beiter's also has set up a room for her to pump breast milk for her baby to have while she is at work, she said, which is very helpful.
"And WIC gave me the best of the best electric pumps, which really helps," she added.
The Lycoming Clinton Breastfeeding Coalition is a breast feeding support group that advocates for breastfeeding mothers in trying to remove societal barriers.
The group welcomes anyone who is interested in advocating for nursing mothers. It currently has eight members, including nurses, lactation consultants and mothers.
"Our chairperson, Traci Foster, is a former nursing mother," McCloskey said.
McCloskey said the group hopes to present an award each month to raise community awareness about how some minor accommodations help new mothers be successful in breastfeeding their babies.
The group meets at noon on the second Thursday of each month at the WIC office at 612 W. Fourth St. Anyone interested may call the coalition at 570-322-7656.