Teaching the littles to give back with SupercommunityLIC


Teaching the littles to give back with SupercommunityLIC

As parents, we want to instill in our children the importance of generosity and ‘giving back’ to others, but are often unsure how to do so or where to start. #MindrMama Julz Donald took her desire to involve her community in giving back to an entirely new level in founding SupercommunityLIC, a Long Island City-based organization which provides opportunities for mamas and their littles to volunteer and make a difference in their own backyard and beyond. We asked Julz to share with us about her organization, its upcoming Mothers’ Day initiative, and how the Mindr community and their babes can roll up their sleeves and get involved.

Tell us about SupercommunityLIC, and your path to founding it.

SupercommunityLIC has the mission of celebrating our community and facilitating ways of giving back. There are a few core team members who organize and drive our efforts, but hundreds in Long Island City (LIC) and beyond help us make a difference.

I founded SupercommunityLIC after having a baby and then leaving my “big job” in the city nearly 5 years ago. I love living in LIC and wanted to carve out more space and time to give back — something I have always felt strongly about but hadn’t dedicated enough time to. I knew lots of my friends and neighbors felt the same way and many of them were in a similar situation.

How has parenthood influenced your work with your organization?

As soon as I had my daughter, life changed forever. I prioritized different things in my life immediately — and interestingly, I became more productive. I started putting more time and energy into my community work, which has made me a happier person. I also believe in involving my daughter in as much of my community work as possible. She and her friends know they are very fortunate, and donate to those less fortunate regularly. They also volunteer at our SupercommunityLIC events.

You have a Mother's Day partnership coming up with the Floating Hospital. What is the concept behind the collaboration, and what drew you to this particular non-profit?

I met The Floating Hospital at the same time as setting up SupercommunityLIC, and learned how they help those in need in our community. They have been providing free healthcare to the NYC homeless community for over 160 years, and are just a remarkable organization of incredible human beings! Part of what makes them amazing is they provide so much more than just healthcare. They had started to do Mothers’ Day makeovers for homeless women, and we suggested we could do more by also gifting beauty bags to these moms. This has grown over the years, and last year we managed to gift over 800 beauty bags to mamas living in shelters. These gifts mean so much to these mamas who rarely get anything for themselves. It makes them feel so special and really boosts their self-esteem.

 We partner with The Floating Hospital throughout the year but also support other charities and causes including #plasticfreelic, American Breast Cancer Foundation, the Queens-based Shareing and Careing, ThriveNYC and our local public school.

In what ways can fellow mamas help contribute to and become involved in your efforts?
All we do is on our FB page @supercommunitylic! If you are reading this before May 1st, 2019, we would love some help with our upcoming Mothers' Day Appeal.  There are a few ways mamas can support:

·        We have an Amazon Wishlist through which you can donate items that are shipped directly to us, so super easy!)

·        We are also collecting new toiletries (shampoo, body wash, lotion, etc.) in hotel or full sizes, make up, fragrance, and costume jewelry which will be used to fill the beauty bags. We are looking for donations of any size, but it would be amazing if anyone has corporate connections and might be able to help.

·        Lastly, we are hosting a volunteer community event to assemble the beauty bags on Sunday May 5 from 11am-3pm at the New York Irish Center in LIC. Kids are welcome to come help! Please see the events section of our Facebook page for more details. 

What impact do you hope SupercommunityLIC will have on your community?  
SupercommunityLIC is about creating a place where people can celebrate community and also explore and experience ways of giving back. We know the work we do has a positive impact on so many people, but also facilitates ways in which people can really get involved and suggest new initiatives. We hope it continues to provide positivity and inspiration to many. 

Do you find it important to involve children in giving back? How can parents get their children involved in doing work with and and for their communities?

My daughter and other children in the community actively help with a toy drive at Christmas. As part of this, when they check in, we intentionally talk about why we are collecting toys and who is going to be getting the gifts. Allowing the children hands-on experiences with events like these helps instill important values at a young age.

We are always collecting diapers and other baby and new mom items for the Floating Hospital. My daughter loves bringing up the bags and boxes of donations to help count and sort the items before sending them to the homeless shelters. 

SupercommunityLIC has worked hard to involve kids and created a number of kid-specific opportunities throughout the year. As parents, we want kids to understand what it means to give back, why we do it, and to experience it firsthand. There are many ways in which parents can get kids involved. We have done events like stocking filling for kids living in shelters, family bingo fundraisers, #plasticfreelic community discussions (which are among our most popular events).



Backgrounder: New York City's new lactation law


Backgrounder: New York City's new lactation law

Any new mom who has navigated the return to work while still nursing a little one knows that sinking feeling. Searching for the quietest breast pump on the market, in order to pump stealthily in a small cubicle with colleagues 3 feet away. Expressing milk while perched on the edge of a toilet seat. Pumping in a closet next to the janitorial supplies, praying no one walks in. So we’re breathing a collective sigh of relief about New York CIty’s new lactation room law, which went into effect in March 2019. #MindrMama and employment litigator Alex Berke shared her thoughts this new law and the impacts it may have on those of us working-while-pumping.

New York City recently passed a new law that provides clarity to employers and employees regarding what rights mothers have to express milk (most often through pumping) in the workplace. Berke-Weiss Law PLLC is a woman-owned employment law firm in New York. In our practice, we meet employers who are trying to comply with the law, and women who are being discriminated against by their employers. Often, pregnant women and new moms find that their performance is questioned after they announce their pregnancy, or have trouble being accommodated to provide care and sometimes even food for their children who are at home.

What is the new NYC lactation law, and when did/does it come into effect?

New York City’s new lactation law has two components: (1) creating requirements for lactation rooms for employers with four or more employees and (2) requiring employers to create a policy that alerts employees to the existence of the lactation room, and includes the process for requesting lactation-related accommodations.

New York State requires that a lactation room is provided to employees who express milk for up to three years after birth. New York City now joins New York State in offering protections to breastfeeding mothers. 

The NYC law went into effect on March 17, 2019.  Now, employers in NYC with four or more employees must provide a lactation room that allows mothers to express milk shielded from view and free from intrusion. The statewide law encouraged employers to provide specific amenities, but the NYC law now requires the lactation room to include at least:

·       An electrical outlet

·       A surface to place the breast pump and other personal items;

·       Nearby access to running water, and;

·       A refrigerator suitable for breast milk storage.

New York City has released model policies for employers, including a model request form. This process offers guidance for how employers should handle multiple requests from employees who may need to use the designated lactation room at the same time, an outline of the timeframe and process for employers to respond to employee’s requests for accommodation, and an overview of employee’s rights to be paid during the time they use to express milk.

Is this development a big deal for moms in NYC? Why/why not?

This development allows moms to clearly understand their rights relating to expressing milk at work, and provides a way for employees who are having trouble in their workplace exercising their rights to discuss the issues with their employer. Although employers already were obligated to provide some of these accommodations, the new law lays out specifics about what steps employees and employers need to take. The model policies released by the City also go into detail about what is required, and can serve as a useful for resource for employees and employers alike.

There are model lactation room policies that accompany the law -- what do these policies have to say, and how binding are they on employers?

These policies can be found here and can be adapted to meet the specific needs of employers as written. The law does not state specific penalties for not having a policy or a lactation room, but a violation can still create employer liability. Employers who violate the law may be liable for punitive damages, emotional distress, back pay and front pay if there’s a finding of discrimination. In short, if an employer does not have the appropriate policies or lactation rooms, affected employees may have a legal claim against the employer for discrimination, unless the employer can demonstrate that it is an “undue hardship” to provide a room.

What (if any) changes can moms expect to see in their workplaces as a result of this new law and the accompanying policies?

Moms should expect their employers to provide a lactation room policy, a lactation room request form, and that the employers are meeting all of the lactation room requirements. And, moms should expect to have more conversations about what they need to express milk at work. However, some employers still may have an out in providing lactation rooms that meet the standards set by this law. Under the law, employers can say that meeting the lactation room requirements is so challenging that they pose an “undue hardship.” There are standards for what makes something an undue hardship, including the nature and cost of an accommodation, the impact of providing the accommodation on the operation of the facility, or the financial resources of the employer. For example, if the employer only has a space available that is not near a refrigerator, the annoyance of purchasing a mini-fridge would not necessarily be an undue hardship. But, if the space is the only space available and would require re-wiring to accommodate a nearby fridge, that may be considered an undue hardship. If the employer thinks that an accommodation would be an undue hardship, they still need to have a conversation with the employee about other alternatives, and should work to come up with some accommodation that meets the employee’s needs.

What can we expect to see happening next in this space in the workplace and beyond?

When the City implements new laws, we can expect an education campaign to inform people of their new rights. The New York City Human Rights Commission will work on enforcement. We should expect to see more situations where people advocate for their rights in the workplace and seek redress if they are not being met. We anticipate continued efforts by women advocating for more nurturing and friendly lactation spaces, access to having breast milk shipped home from work trips, and insurance coverage for breast pumps that meet their needs.


Friday Five


Friday Five

Happy Friday, Mindr fam! Here’s what you missed this week:

  1. This Tuesday, April 2nd, was Equal Pay Day, a symbolic day in the U.S. that marks the date into 2019 that women had to work to earn as much money as men earned in 2018. April 2nd is the date calculated based on all women's earnings, but it's crucial to know that Black Women’s Equal Pay Day won't happen until August 22th, followed by Native American Women’s Equal Pay Day on September 23th, and Latinas’ Equal Pay Day on November 20th. Check out Womansplaining the Pay Gap, in which the gender editor of the New York Times, Jessica Bennett, demystifies commonly misunderstood aspects of the gender pay gap.

  2. On Equal Pay Day, Clif Bar & Company pledged to pay each of the women on the U.S. Women’s World Cup team $31,250, the alleged difference between the bonuses of the men’s and women’s national teams.

  3. Also on Tuesday, Lori Lightfoot, a mother of 1, was elected to become the first black woman and openly gay person to serve as the Mayor of Chicago.

  4. Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern has gained national attention for leading with empathy in the wake of the Christchurch massacre. What people may not know is that globally she is also the second elected leader to give birth while in office, and the first ever leader of a nation to take maternity leave.

  5. Olympic gold medalist Shawn Johnson announced yesterday that she is expecting. The former gymnast has helped to demystify miscarriage by openly documenting her journey through her first pregnancy and miscarriage last year.