Helping Mamas – breaking the chains of poverty
By Katie Hart Smith
According to the U.S. Census Report, 27.2% of Georgia’s children live in poverty and Georgia ranks among the top ten states with the highest percentage of children living in poverty. Helping Mamas, Inc. founded by Jamie Lackey in 2014.
Jamie knew that breaking the chains of poverty can be a daunting task. However, she and another like-minded social worker, who have a combined experience of thirty years working with non-profit organizations, stepped in to address the basic need of mothers in need – to provide and distribute baby supplies and clothing to children throughout the metro Atlanta area.
Right: Wellcare social workers visit Helping Mamas to collect baby items for mothers in need.
Did you know it costs on average $100 per month for diapers just for one child?
The chains of poverty can be broken and it can start with supplying financially struggling parents with diapers. Mothers who want to work cannot enroll their children into child care without an adequate supply of diapers. No diapers. No child care. No job. With a mission focused on connecting Helping Mamas to mamas needing help, Lackey said, “Our vision is to be the baby supply bank, collecting and distributing baby supplies to organizations that serve women and children in need.”
“Moms worry about their children and they can’t feel hopeful if they can’t provide for their basic needs. Our role is to find resources that can help mothers in need and move them forward,” added Lackey. Helping Mamas has a relationship with thirty partner agencies throughout metro Atlanta that they distribute baby supplies to. “Volunteer opportunities are family friendly. One can serve as an agency ambassador, shopper, assist with donation deliveries, and/or even sort and catalogue the inventory of baby clothes and supplies housed in our 2,500 square foot warehouse in Snellville.”
Diapers are a key item collected by Helping Mamas, Inc.
Helping Mamas accepts new cribs and car seats, diapers, pull ups, diaper wipes, lotions, and baby shampoos to gently used strollers, clothes and toys for children ages birth to twelve years old. Donations are accepted on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:30am – 4pm at 3750 Hewatt Court, Suite F, Snellville, GA, 30039.
In 2015, Helping Mamas won the United Way of Greater Atlanta’s Spark Prize, an award that recognizes small non-profit organizations that use unique approaches to overcoming poverty. Lackey observed that while there were hundreds of groups in Atlanta that served women and children, all requested the need for baby supplies for their clients. She reflected, “Before Helping Mamas, there wasn’t any kind of coordinated effort to collect and distribute these essential baby items that aren’t covered by WIC or food stamps.”
The results can be profound, Lackey explained. “One in three moms living in poverty have to choose between diapers and food. These maternal hardships subject the child and mother to emotional, social, and behavioral stressors. I have seen cases where mothers have used the small plastic grocery bags as diapers because they couldn’t afford to buy them. When parents have their child’s basic needs met, they are able to focus on parenting and search out employment opportunities and job training that will eventually lead to self-sufficiency. When we all work together, staff at partnership agencies are able to do what they do best; teach the parents the skills needed to break the cycle of poverty.”
To date, Helping Mamas has served over 2,500 clients throughout the Atlanta area.
Right: Volunteers help shop for babies
Helping Mamas is also a part of two national networks – Baby2Baby National Network and the National Diaper Bank who help their program and board of directors with corporate and financial support. They also link them with other like-minded organizations across the country so best practices can be identified. This allows the organizations to “operate in a low cost, high impact manner,” according to Lackey.
To learn more about Helping Mamas, Inc., regarding client referrals, volunteer, or donation opportunities, visit their Facebook page or website at www.helpingmamas.org.