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Conversations with Jamie Lackey

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jamie Lackey.

Hi Jamie, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
There was no coordinated effort to collect and distribute essential baby items or period products to women and children in need. After watching moms having to use plastic grocery bags for diapers or washout and reuse disposable diapers, I knew something needed to be done. There are no public assistance programs to provide for diapers or period products. Parents were missing work because of diaper needs, babies were experiencing severe diaper rash infections, and teen girls were missing a week of school a month because of a lack of period products.

Combining my passion for motherhood and social work, I founded Helping Mamas out of my garage. Collecting baby supplies from friends and family members and then distributing them to social workers serving women and children. By 2018, Helping Mamas had grown into a 9,000 square foot building where we operate today.

Serving nearly 60,000 children in 2020 and distributing two million essential items to the community. Helping Mamas has grown to fight diaper needs and period poverty throughout the state of Georgia and in Knoxville, TN.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
I don’t think there is a smooth road when you start a business or organization. There are always struggles along the way, but that is what makes you and your organization stronger. You learn from the struggles. At Helping Mamas, I have been fortunate to find a community that supports the mission and vision of the organization. This is what has helped us overcome the struggles we have had. When you are a start-up, a lot of the struggle is proving your brand and your ability to meet the goals you have set.

You have to constantly build a reputation in the community. While that can be exhausting at times, it also makes you stronger. We have had to move to a new space which, while exciting, was also a struggle. We moved from a 2500 square foot warehouse to a 9105 square foot warehouse, all without movers. It was an adventure, but we accomplished it. Another struggle is learning to play all the roles you have to play that you have little experience in. Learning logistics and warehouse management was a struggle for this social worker, but with a great team, we have really grown. 2020 was a struggle for everyone. We are so thankful that we were able to keep our doors open and grow! We served so many families in need in 2020, and that makes all the struggles worthwhile.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
I am a CEO of a nonprofit that I founded. I focus largely these days on strategic growth and development. I have always specialized in program development and growth of organizations. This is still true in my current role. I work with a wonderful board of directors, staff, and volunteers to make sure no mom has to choose between food and diapers for their child again.

I am most proud of the team we have built at Helping Mamas. From our staff, VISTAs, interns, board and volunteers. We have an incredible team focused on helping families living in poverty. I think what sets me, and our organization apart from others is our ability to advocate and serve. We not only provide diapers and period products to families that need us most, we have learned to have a strong voice on social media to discuss poverty. Our social media platform has allowed to educate and empower our community to act.

Is there something surprising that you feel even people who know you might not know about?
I think what is most surprising is that I hate to take risks. So starting a nonprofit was a huge risk I never intended to take. Every decision I have made at Helping Mamas has required risk and my gut feeling that we would succeed. Learning to take a risk and go out on a leap of faith has stretched me personally and professionally. I am so glad I decided to take this risk and grateful for the people that have supported me along the way.

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Image Credits
Courtney Ray

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