Child’s play is serious business. Experts know that the games babies and toddlers play, from make-believe and block-building to rough-and-tumble horseplay, are crucial to their physical, social, and emotional development.
No one knows this better than Debbie Frisch. Raised in an abusive home, she never experienced the joy of carefree play in a safe, nurturing space. Grown up, she struggled to do better as a mom to two daughters and then as a caregiver for the 56 short-term foster children to whom she opened her home. Along the way, she discovered how our society short-changes kids and their parents, especially those in underserved communities.
Debbie decided to do something about it. With the help of family and friends, she launched HelloBaby, the nation's first free-standing, free of charge, drop-in play space for babies, toddlers, and their caregivers.
Nestled in a specially-designed storefront space in a former “play desert” on Chicago’s south side, HelloBaby welcomes families of every background, offering creative, fun, enriching activities from bubble-blowing and finger painting to story-telling and music time. Unexpectedly, it’s also become a place where overworked moms and dads (and grandparents and other caregivers, too) can escape the stresses of solitary child care, make friends, and get access to comfort, advice, and other forms of support. Now a second HelloBaby space is under development—and Debbie and her friends have dreams of many more.
In Hello Baby, Debbie Frisch and Isaac Stone Simonelli tell how this unique community resource came to be, including how Debbie won help from local businesses, forged partnerships with community leaders and organizations, and gradually earned the trust of once-skeptical neighborhood families. It’s a story rich with lessons for other nonprofit leaders—and for anyone who’s ever wondered what they can do to help make our communities into nurturing places where every child can thrive.
HELLO BABY by Debbie Frisch and Isaac Stone Simonelli
Paperback | 6 x 9 inches | 200 pages
This book is now available for pre-order. It will be shipped on September 17, 2023.