Moms Supporting Moms
I started a project called Moms Supporting Moms in October 2016. It is a group of moms collecting necessities like clothing for women and their families in need in Surrey and Langley. To date we have 130 members and have donated about 70 bags (garbage bag sized) of babies’, kids’ and women’s clothes and other items such as strollers, household items, toiletries, socks, gloves, toys and much more. So far most of the items have been donated by moms in the Clayton Heights area, but we would like to expand the network of collection to other communities.
I’ve been a Birth Doula for 8 years, supporting moms in Surrey and Langley. I’ve seen many moms struggle to scrape by, doing their best to raise their families. It’s stressful enough being a mom, it’s even more stressful trying to juggle everything while worrying about if you can pay rent, and still get everything your child needs. Another reason I chose to focus on moms and their families is that children outgrow things so fast. There is always a continual supply of clothes, toys, strollers, baby stuff, and it doesn’t require people to donate money or resources they don’t already have. There are also very specific needs of moms that get missed when people think of the problem of poverty or homelessness in Surrey. We have been able to provide specific donations of maternity clothes, nursing pillows, bras, feminine products, kitchenware and other things that people don’t usually think about when donating.
The idea of the project is so simple because it is a win-win for everyone. Families are always having to declutter as they outgrow things. Now they get to make a meaningful difference locally at the same time. A lot of people drop them off at thrift stores, but why resell them when there are families in Surrey who really need items now, and can’t even afford to buy them from thrift stores?
I called up several organizations who work with families in need and discovered that they already had programs to distribute items to families in poverty or fleeing violence. All we had to do was drop them off to them. I asked moms in my neighbourhood, and the response was overwhelming. Everyone wanted an opportunity to contribute. They could declutter and help out at the same time. It was a win-win. Some moms wanted to help out more and took on collecting things from their own network of friends and driving the donations to the various organizations.
The organizations we donated to included the Surrey Women’s Centre, Whalley Family Place, Ishtar Transition House, and the Fraser Regional Aboriginal Friendship Centre Association. There was also a response to specific requests from families affected by the apartment fire in Langley in December 2016, and for winter gloves from schools that had children who could not afford that.
Why There is a Need
More than half of the region’s neighbourhoods with a concentration of youth living below the poverty line are in Surrey, according to the Surrey Poverty Reduction Coalition.
City council received an update Monday on how the poverty reduction plan has been implemented so far, outlining how the city’s 16% poverty rate — or 72,000 residents — is similar to Metro Vancouver’s overall, but of note is how 11 of the 20 region’s neighbourhoods with the largest number of children and youth living in poverty can be found in Surrey.
We like to think of ourselves as a caring, civilized society, but in fact we have been tolerating and sustaining shameful levels of child and family poverty for decades. By allowing our society’s wealth to be concentrated in the hands of fewer and fewer wealthy individuals, we have allowed thousands of children to grow up in poverty that we know hurts their health and ignores their human rights. We have left families raising children in BC to face stagnating wages, precarious work, gaping holes in our social safety net, and soaring costs for essential living expenses (for example, housing, food, child care, transportation). Parents raising their children in poverty are frantically trying to keep their heads above water by working more hours or multiple jobs (if they can), going to the food bank, scrimping on their own nutrition and juggling which bills they can afford to pay each month and still cover their rent. We have ignored the injustice of the continued over-representation of particular populations of children in these dire circumstances. The most recent statistics from Statistics Canada (2014) paint a stark picture: 1 in 5 BC children are poor.
The Future of the Project
We would like the project to expand so that more people know that there are organizations in Whalley who distribute items to families in need, and that people can donate useful items they are decluttering to make a difference to Surrey as a community. I would also like to have more people who want to be leaders in this project, and collect donations of items from their neighbourhoods. The response so far has been so positive, from the people contributing, and from the organizations.
What You Can Do
- Join the Facebook group – Moms Supporting Moms In Need
- Call or text 604 809 3288 to schedule a pick up or drop off.
- Become a leader in the project and collect items from your neighbourhood community and drop them off to the appropriate organizations. Contact Kaurina to find out more. 604 809 3288.