Baskets for Babies - Moms Helping Moms
By Rev. Tamara McKay,
People ask me, "How did Baskets for Babies, come to be?" Here is my story:
At the time, I had three children, (six total) but my three oldest were born over 20 years ago. I was on state assistance, and did not drive.
I know how hard it can be, and when you are trying to be a good parent, it can be even harder. Instead of spending time with your child, you're running all over town trying to get help; appointments, clothing banks, DSHS, diaper banks, job interviews, and more. If you are doing this either on foot or on the bus it can take all day just to get to one place and back home. When you are stressing on how to provide things for a new baby, not only does the stress affect your health, but the relationships within your family.
Two years ago my oldest daughter found out that she was pregnant, and couldn't afford anything for her baby. I started collecting things for her, and one day she laughed and said, "Mom, stop, I don't have any more room for stuff... go help someone else."
The first family I helped was Jessica's.
Jessica and Dakota
Jessica is and always will be very near and dear to my heart. After all, she is part of the Baskets for Babies family now. Jessica had placed an ad on Craigslist for assistance with baby things. She was soon to be expecting her daughter and the doctor's wanted to take the baby sooner due to the chemo treatments she so desperately needed. Jessica also had a set of twin two-year-old girls and a teenager, who at that time, was being your typical "teen". Her relationship with the baby's dad was strained, as well. Having cancer and worrying about what would happen to her children if she didn't make it, had the potential to really unravel, not only the family, but also Jessica, the person fighting the health battle.
After meeting Jessica that day, (February 13th, 2010) I knew this was what God wanted me to do with my life. Finding your purpose in life is an amazing event that not everyone gets to accomplish. I cannot begin to describe it. I was on my way one weekend afternoon to pick my youngest daughter up from a weekend at her grandparent’s home. I was listening to a sermon on how our lives do not belong to us, but to God. The part I remember the clearest is when the preacher said that he himself had told God, "Take my life - make a beautiful mess of it." Driving along in my car, all alone, I spoke out to God, "God, Take MY life - make a beautiful mess of it.” Little did I know what a beautiful mess he would, indeed make of it.
Through our website and Facebook page, you will hear a lot about Jessica and her family. In our office you will see her picture, as well as pictures of her children. We were there at the beginning and as with any family, we will continue to be there. We watched Dakota Miracle, her daughter, come home. We held Jessica in our hearts when CPS was involved and she was scared she would never see her kids again. We celebrated when they came home, and prayed when the cancer hit again. We rejoiced when she beat it. We rejoiced when she got married. We prayed as she went through the trials of surgery and loss, and we cried when she moved away. However, we never lost touch. Jessica is no longer living in Spokane, but will remain a huge part of our family. From a distance, we look forward to watching her and her babies as they grow.
Jessica and Dakota now
For the first 9 months of this endeavor I collected items from friends, family, strangers, yard sales, thrift stores, and donations. I stored them wherever I could find room. In October of 2010, I rented a storage unit near my house because I couldn't leave things outside with the weather turning as it does here in the Pacific Northwest. I then spent the next few months trying to do what I could to get help with Baskets for Babies, but continued to pay the storage fee out of my own pocket.
In November 2010, we were approved by Gonzaga for their law clinic program and for months they assisted us in drawing out the legal paper work while I tried to get all my visions on paper and save up the filing fee. Going through the clinic was a long process. Between real life, finances, and breaks in the class schedules we changed hands a few times and worked with many wonderful people. There were many steps and many meetings involved in building this dream, including creating our bi-laws and electing board members. At one point, during the holidays I didn't have the money and a donation online gave us what we needed to get through the rough months. (Thank you Brother Kevin!)
The next year was kind of a blur for me. My own personal life was not going well. I fell ill in April and was diagnosed a few months later with Hashimoto's. Hashimoto's disease is a disorder that affects your thyroid; your immune system attacks your thyroid gland, basically killing it. The thyroid gland is part of your endocrine system, which produces hormones that coordinate many of your body's activities. I was run-down and could not even get off the couch some days. For people who know me, this is not how I operate! I was very frustrated. This caused issues at home, especially in the beginning when we didn’t know what was wrong with me.
In November of 2011, I got the news that my mother was in stage four of lung cancer, and that if she was lucky, she would have about five months to live. The doctor stared at me in disbelief. He did not think I understood what was happening, but I assured him I did and whatever God had in store for our family, I was ready for the roller coaster ride of my life. During this time, my friends stood beside me; making phone calls, deliveries, and running the show. Without their support, Baskets for Babies would have ceased to exist, but luckily they share my dream, and I am blessed to have them all in my life.
2012 brought many good tidings my way. In January I was fixing things in my own life and feeling better about the year to come. Valentine's Day was a good one when we got the news that my mother's tumor had shrunk drastically. In Late March our attorneys finished up our 501 (c) (3) paperwork and submitted it to the IRS. We had been told this would be a long wait, possibly six months to even a year, but they thought we might see something in about three months, if we were lucky.
On the 18th of May a friend called and said he had a building that he wanted to donate - free rent for the first six months and terms we could not pass up! I had prayed for this and God dropped it in my lap. Now I was praying for the 501 to come through.
On May 8th, 2012 we got our approval. However, we did not find out until May 19th. I was out of town when my phone rang. I wasn't going to answer but looked at my cell, curious as to who was calling on a Saturday evening. It was Kristina from Gonzaga. "What can she possibly want?" I thought. “It’s the weekend. Maybe she’s just taking a minute to check on how things were going considering my mother's health?” When she told me we had gotten the approval for our 501 (c) (3) I was in shock. Not only did I think it would take longer, but part of me thought we would never see the day. The following Monday I did the walk through on the building and on Tuesday I signed the lease and received the keys.
Rev. Tamara McKay ~Founder & Exec. Director,
Baskets for Babies
Baskets for Babies cannot fix everything in a mom-in-need’s life, but what it can do is offer a hand up, help procuring baby things, and alleviate some of the stress so that she can focus on being a better parent.
Baskets for Babies is not an agency. It is a "family". People call all the time and cannot believe that I remember them. I remember all too well what it was like to feel alone, pregnant, and scared.
I do my best to be someone that people can turn to, even if they just need someone to listen. We were built by moms, for moms (and dads) because we've been there.
If you or someone you know is in need contact
To make a donation: http://www.basketsforbabies.org/donationpage.htm
Follow Baskets for Babies- Spokane on Facebook.
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