Who she is:
Jamie Lackey is a wife and mom of two: a daughter who is 12 and a son who is 9. She was a social worker for 15 years before she started her nonprofit organization, Helping Mamas.
Why we think she's a mom making waves:
Helping Mamas is the baby supply bank for Georgia. Public assistance programs like WIC and SNAP don't allow for diaper purchases or other essential baby items. Helping Mamas provides not just diapers, but also wipes, pacifiers, car seats, cribs, books, toys, and other items to moms in need. The items are donated by local organizations and businesses and distributed by social service agencies. Helping Mamas is on target to reach 30,000 children this year.
The aha moment:
"As a nonprofit professional, social worker, and mom to two young kids, I saw a gap in services and realized we could do things differently and better," Jamie says. "I realized there was a huge need out there when I saw families reusing plastic grocery bags for diapers or washing out disposable diapers and reusing them. That was heartbreaking to me. I knew how hard being a mom was with a good education, a supportive husband, and family and friends. I couldn’t imagine trying to be a mom without all of that support in place."
How she got her start:
"I just took a leap of faith. It was a grassroots effort. I talked with my friends and we really grew just by word of mouth," Jamie says. "Now we get donations from everywhere -- churches, school groups, companies, and corporations. There are different groups doing drives for us all the time. It's very community driven. I started Helping Mamas in my garage and now we have a 9,000 square foot building."
A national support system:
"We were really fortunate to get involved with a Los Angeles agency called Baby2Baby that has a similar mission, and we ended up forming a national network of about 30 of us around the country," she says. "It's great to have that support because we can talk about what's worked and what hasn't, and best practices, and how to be efficient." (See the full list of agencies nationwide with missions similar to that of Helping Mamas.)
"Even though we’re doing great and growing tremendously, we’re still only serving 5 percent of children living in poverty in Georgia. So we want to continue to grow, get the word out about us, and let people know how to get involved with us," Jamie says. "We're also starting a program to take supplies to rural areas. We know there are moms who have difficulty getting to us, so we're raising funds to buy vans that we can take out into the community. We also just opened an office in Knoxville -- my hometown. We want to bring Helping Mamas there next."
What do you on "those" days?
"I have had to start pushing self-care. I found myself trying to be everything to everyone and saying yes to everything. So I had to learn to put boundaries in place," she says. "Also, if I’m having a terrible day, I won’t make a big decision. Instead, if I can, I'll go outside to walk and remember why I'm doing this. It's easy to get caught up in the day-to-day problems and issues, and I have to take a moment to remember why it matters."
Want to help? Visit the Helping Mamas website to learn more or make a donation.
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