When Terry Stottlemyer and Madeline Brogan started Mothers Helping Mothers 24 years ago, they never dreamed it would become the nonprofit organization it is today.
The two women say the organization was born out of a need they saw locally to help struggling mothers. To actually help, though, they felt they needed to represent an established organization.
“If someone had told us way back when that it would’ve become this — it just seemed like we were going to help this one family,” says Brogan, president of the organization. “It snowballed bigger and bigger because of the need. We were never seeking out clients; they found us.”
The organization provides donated clothing, toys and baby accessories for any family willing to wait in line and provide basic information. Clients are allowed three visits per year, during which they can pick out up to 15 outfits for each child in their family. With an all-volunteer staff of approximately 20 core volunteers, the organization currently serves an average of 6,700 families annually.
Through individual donations or grants, Mothers Helping Mothers is also able to provide occasional emergency assistance to families in crisis that might need their electricity turned back on or rental assistance to avoid eviction.
“I think that’s the most rewarding part,” says Stottlemyer, the nonprofit’s executive director. “It’s meant to be a one-time leg up, but if we can help avoid that spiral of getting evicted, losing all your stuff and having to come up with first and last month’s rent and a security deposit all over again, that’s a big help.”
With no paid staff members, the organization relies heavily on volunteers, and Brogan says they’re always seeking more people to get involved.
“It’s so hands-on here,” she says. “It’s one thing to be on a board somewhere and never really be with the people who need help. Here, you get to help them one-on-one. You just get so much back right away.”
To learn more, visit Gulf Coast Gives.
* THE GOOD NEWS is a trademark of Observer Media Group.
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