This week I wanted to spotlight a small NFP organization that provides a wonderful service to young mothers. There are many organizations providing essential services out of the good of the volunteers heart. My hat goes of to Zair Burris, the driving force behind Moms Offering Mom’s support. Please generously support this organization with your time, treasure, and talent! Here is the transcript of the interview:

  1. Tell my readers about you. You have an interesting background.

I’m from the Oregon coast- I have a master’s in marine biology and a PhD in oceanography. All of that training was actually really helpful for starting and running a nonprofit- from writing grant applications to developing databases to track our donations to data analysis to get an idea of the impact we have in the community (number of people we help, for how long, etc.). 

  1. How did you become involved with this organization? Why did you start this organization? How has it grown or changed? 

I started thinking about starting this nonprofit (Moms Offering Moms Support) about 6 months after I had my first baby. I read an article about “diaper need”- how in the US, 1 in 3 families can’t afford to buy enough diapers for their baby. Having a baby is so stressful and exhausting on its own, I couldn’t imagine having to worry about having enough diapers to get through the night. 

We opened 4 months before the covid pandemic hit, working out of my house, with no volunteers other than myself and occasionally my husband (he had a full-time job). We had to work out the kinks pretty quickly- we went from providing 5 babies a month with baby supplies to over 40 in a matter of months! We started with no money in the bank, so it really increased our impact when we started partnering with the Lehigh Valley Diaper Bank. They give us diapers every other month. I cried when we got our first shipment- it was such a relief to not have to worry about how I would come up with money to purchase diapers for our babies. Diapers are still the number one item requested by our families.

Surprisingly, the nonprofit runs almost exactly the same as when we started 3 years ago- we provide the same things, but just more of them and to more families. Because we get more people wanting to donate than we can handle, we are able to be pick and choose what we accept. We used to have to take everything, no matter the condition, because something was better than nothing. Now we only accept things in great condition. This saves us a lot of time cleaning and reduces the number of things that get thrown away.  

We’ve also started partnering with hospitals and social workers to get those families most in need referred to our program (young moms, homeless families, women who have escaped domestic violence, and undocumented moms). We have started a number of “Programs”, for instance our Car Seat Program provides families with car seats donated to us by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. Our Full Bellies Program is mainly funded by local grocery stores (especially Giant Food Stores) and provides baby food, highchairs, formula, and breast-feeding supplies to families. Our Safe Seep Program is mainly supported by local grants (Leona Gruber Trust, Caroline JS Sanders Trust, John & Margaret Post Foundation, etc.) and allows us to provide bassinets and portable cribs. 

  1. Can you tell me about the work your organization does and the wonderful program you run? As a follow up, what differentiates you from other organizations? 

Right now, because of the formula shortage that started in February, we are helping a much broader segment of the population get infant formula. Normally, we provide low-income and homeless families with baby supplies once a month until their baby turns 1-year old. While we focus on infants, we also provide maternity clothing and toddler clothing (many of the babies we serve have older siblings). We provide anywhere from 45-85 infants/toddlers with supplies each month. We are a donation-based organization, so what we have available each week changes constantly, but we normally provide: diapers, formula, wipes, toys, clothes, shoes, shampoo, car seats, bassinets, etc. We are different from other organizations because we deliver the baby supplies directly to the family’s door. This was very important to me when I was developing the nonprofit- it is a lot of work to go anywhere with a newborn baby, especially if you don’t have a car and rely on public transportation (as many of our families do). We didn’t want moms having to bring their babies out during winter to get their supplies. Similarly, we make it easy to donate by doing no-contact porch pickups from donors. We started this as a covid precaution and it stuck because it makes it easy for everyone – families can leave their items out for us and we collect everything during a scheduled pickup window. We are also all volunteers, including me!

  1.  What do you think your constituents  would say is the best thing about your organization?

I think the thing that our families appreciate the most (in addition to the wide range of items we supply) is how easy it is for them to get their stuff each month. To become registered with us, they have to show proof of need just at the first delivery (most show us their WIC or snap card) and a note from their doctor if pregnant or discharge paperwork for their newborn. After that, all they have to do is fill out our online request form each month and select what they need from a list. Then we deliver it right to them, typically within 3 days of their request. 

  1. What results does your organization achieve? How has your program improved over time?

Last year, we provided over 49,000 diapers to more than 230 infants, 101 pack-n-plays, and 46 car seats. These supplies keep babies safe and help parents keep their jobs. Most daycares require parents to provide diapers for their babies. If a family runs out of diapers, the baby can’t go to daycare, and the parent has to take off work to stay home with them. This obviously makes it harder for the family to afford diapers. In addition, babies with clean diapers have fewer rashes and other health problems, which has been shown to reduce parental stress.  

Similarly, during the first year of life babies are prone to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). SIDS has been linked to unsafe sleeping habits, where babies are put to sleep in unsafe environments like on a couch, floor or chair, or who co-sleeping with parents. By providing a place for babies to sleep (i.e. pack-n-plays and bassinets), we are keeping them safe during their vulnerable first year!

We also try to support breast-feeding moms by supplying pumps, and nursing bras and shirts. Breast-feeding has long term health benefits for both the mom and baby, so this is important to us.

  1. What are your goals for the next three to five years? What priorities will help you achieve them? What barriers are in your way?

We would love to be able to move out of my house and into a physical storefront where families can have the option of physically picking out the items they need from the donated goods. This would also allow us to shift from picking up donations to having people bring their donations to us. This would allow us take in more donations and help more families. In order to do this we would need to secure funding to rent a space and be able to pay for utilities. Right now we don’t have any funding for that!

  1. What is the hardest decision the organization has had to make recently, and how did you evaluate the tradeoffs involved?

Recently, I had to make the tough decision to stop providing monthly deliveries to families in Bethlehem. They still get one big delivery, but I don’t have the time or volunteers to do it anymore. The need in Easton alone is more than I can handle since having my second baby (I do the nonprofit work when she naps, or early in the morning or late at night). I may have to reduce the work load again next year when I have to go back to work.  I am trying to get grant funding to be paid at least part-time for the work I do with the nonprofit, but I haven’t been successful. If I do get funding, I would be able to increase our aid in Bethlehem again.

  1. What do you, personally, spend most of your time on?

Right now I only have 1 volunteer, so I do about 99% of the work myself. Most of my time is spent delivering supplies to families. After that, it’s sorting donations, putting together deliveries, data entry, and grant writing. I don’t spend enough time updating our facebook page or website!

  1. If people want to contact you to help out, what is your website and how do they reach you? 

Our website is:

Or, we can be reached via email:

Thank you so much for taking an interest in our cause!

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