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Sarasota Thursday, May 9, 2019 2 weeks ago

Mothers Helping Mother to expand

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The Sarasota organization will nearly triple in size.
by: Brynn Mechem Staff Writer

Mothers Helping Mothers is expecting . . . a building expansion, that is.

MHM is an organization that gives mothers in need the resources necessary to help their families thrive.

After the space adjacent to MHM’s storefront became available, the organization saw it as an opportunity to expand.

Since 2010, MHM has occupied a 2,400-square-foot storefront at 5933 N. Washington Blvd. However, with the donations it has received in the last few years, the organization has had to keep certain items in storage containers in the parking lot.

“We have more donations than we can literally process,” said MHM board chair Cheri DeVries. “We are to the ceiling and in the parking lot with all these pods and storage facilities. This expansion gives us the space to do proper storage to protect the donations that are given.”

The organization signed a lease with the landlord two weeks ago. After the landlord makes renovations to the property, Mothers Helping Mothers will expand into the 8,000-square-foot adjacent space, tripling the size of its operation.

In addition to making the free renovations, the landlord is allowing MHM one year to raise the funds necessary — $650,000 — to buy the property, where DeVries said the group will be able to expand its services.

“Mothers is there to bridge the gap of poverty. To do that, it’s not just to provide them with free goods and services, it’s really to figure out what resources they need,” she said. 

“We’ll lift the burden of financial stuff with shoes and clothes, but once we do that, what can we really do to help them become self-sufficient?”

The answer, DeVries said, is partnering with other community organizations to provide tutors, group sessions and child-care lessons.

“We really want to be a resource umbrella for all organizations to participate so that we can help those moms and families rise above the poverty level,” she said. “Most of them are about one catastrophe from falling through the cracks, and we help Band-aid that, but we really want to teach them skills they can use throughout their lives.”

In addition to the expansion, Mothers Helping Mothers recently was awarded a grant of more than $12,000 from the Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation.

“We have a long history of board member volunteerism and involvement with the organization,” said Barancik Foundation CEO and President Teri Hansen. “We have a clear understanding of their mission to have basic necessities for families and we wanted to help with operation efficiency.”

The grant will go toward improving MHM’s electronic software system, donation intake receptacles, vehicle expenses and car seats.

“This is one of those rare organizations that is run solely by volunteers and meets a critical community need,” Hansen said.

DeVries said everything aligned, and while it is a big change, the organization is ready.

“Mothers has been around almost 30 years, but this is the biggest leap we’ve taken,” she said. 

“We’ve never before in the history of our organization had more clients, had more volunteers, served more families or had more financial support.”

The group hopes to complete the expansion by June 1.

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