Shalom Baby attracted Anika Zepp as a project because she realized how important it is for parents to have a system of support.
Anika had her son, Levi, in 2021 and discovered that parenthood is a huge journey. “Over my years of community work and volunteerism, I have seen that positive impact and peer support fosters a thriving community. Regardless of how prepared you are, there are many times that having a network of support makes things feel more manageable, and I saw an opportunity to help curate that with Shalom Baby. Plus, I’m a social extrovert and planner, so the role was a natural fit,” says Anika.
As the parent connector for Shalom Baby, she plans the events and tracks the outreach of families with babies. Her role is supported by volunteers from the group and Jenn Malganick at the Jewish Federation of Edmonton. Many of the volunteers have started walks or reached out to new parents and this helps Anika with her work.
Since they focus Shalom Baby on connecting parents with new babies, members change as they head back to work and their babies become toddlers. Awareness about the group has helped get the word out and membership has grown.
What pleases Anika is seeing how the connection between families continues as the babies grow. “We’ve seen some evolution in what we talk about and how we meet. I’m glad to see much continued relationships.”
Anika didn’t grow up in the Edmonton Jewish community. When she married her husband, who is an active community member, she became interested in supporting him and believes in the value of a strongly connected community for a thriving Jewish culture in Edmonton today and in the future.
“Now that I am a parent, I see our involvement through a new lens of helping to build the community that he will grow up in and eventually contribute to. L’dor v’dor comes to mind more now than ever to create a community that can continue to flourish from each generation to the next,” she says.
She’s involved as a volunteer with Edmonton’s NextGen. The organization engages young Edmontonians in shaping the city. Anika has organized events such as Pecha Kucha Night for NextGen since 2014. She invests herself as a volunteer because she sees the value of being generous in giving back with what she offers.
“For me at this point in my life, I have the time, energy, and—I think—valuable knowledge to give. To act as though it is selfless would be untrue, as I have always found that as a volunteer I am rewarded by the outcomes of the work, the friendships, and the further opportunities to take part in my community,” says Anika.