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Teaching the littles to give back with SupercommunityLIC

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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).

 

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Friday Five

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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.

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Advocate Like A Mother: Reflections from an Inspired Attendee

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Advocate Like A Mother: Reflections from an Inspired Attendee

There’s nothing we love more than seeing our events through the eyes of the mamas, papas, babes and friends who experience them with us. Here, Mindr mama Sally Cunningham shares her perspective on our recent #AdvocateLikeAMother event in celebration of International Women’s Day, both through an incredible short video she created to capture the event, and a beautiful written reflection. What does it mean to you to #AdvocateLikeAMother?

It’s been a couple of weeks since the incredible Mindr and Vox Media’s #AdvocateLikeAMother event in celebration of International Women’s Day, and I’m still energized. The inspiring stories and discussion sparked by the incredible women on the panel, and fostered by the Mindr mamas and papas in the audience, left me with plenty of food for thought. The event has also given me the unique opportunity to reflect on my own experience not only as a mother, but in a new way, as a mother and advocate.

If I am totally honest, until recently, “advocate” was not really a term I ever really thought about, talked about, or even fully understood. I thought it only related to people with political, legal or public platforms — activists, lawyers or politicians speaking on behalf of, defending, or demanding justice for those whose voices are not being heard. But since becoming a mother, I have come to realize the importance of being able to advocate for oneself. As parents, we are fierce advocates for our children. But the question we face is: how do we find that voice for ourselves?

Regardless of who we are, where we come from, and what our experiences are, when it comes to advocating for ourselves as mothers we are often in the dark with how to find and use our own voice, to have our own needs, wants and ambitions heard.

Cue the warm, welcoming and uplifting space created by Mindr and Vox Media. In this setting, stories were shared and celebrated, and questions like mine were asked and discussed. Listening to the personal stories of advocacy from the wonderfully diverse and inspiring panel of women, I noticed a recurring theme. Many of these women had spent their careers advocating for others in their capacity as lawyers, UN representatives and Human Rights advocates. However, once they became mothers, one of their toughest challenge became advocating for themselves. It made me realize that regardless of who we are, where we come from, and what our experiences are, when it comes to advocating for ourselves as mothers we are often in the dark with how to find and use our own voice, to have our own needs, wants and ambitions heard.

There were two moments, in particular, that stood out for me at the event. The first came from a beautifully candid exchange between Lawyers for Children lawyer Tara Sheoran-Khaimov and model/breastfeeding advocate Mara Martin. Towards the end of the event, while answering a question from the audience, Tara used her platform to praise Mara for breastfeeding her daughter while walking the catwalk at a Sports Illustrated casting last year. Tara highlighted how Mara’s action demonstrates how important breastfeeding was to her, and also reflected the importance so many of us place on being able to breastfeed our children. While this may have been a brief exchange on the panel, it demonstrated the importance of championing, supporting, and being allies to one another. It reminded me of the solidarity we all need when navigating the world as mothers, an experience that sometimes seems so isolating. Mara further demonstrated that camaraderie when she shared the story of how she came to find herself on the catwalk, breastfeeding her baby. She said that support she had from the people around her in that moment is what allowed her to make that choice. The knock-on effect of Mara’s actions in normalizing breastfeeding globally has been profound. This really hit home for me how seemingly small acts of support by enough people can lead to great change.

The second moment that really stuck with me came from a question by an attendee. She spoke of how being able to advocate for oneself is a privilege, highlighting that there are women and mothers who cannot advocate for themselves without risking repercussions. She asked the panel how those of us who do have that privilege can help and support women not just by advocating on their behalf but in empowering them to advocate for themselves. What a powerful and thought-provoking question.

We don’t need to have the platform or the public persona or even an overt intention to go out and advocate for a particular issue. By simply showing up, listening and supporting others, we are making it easier for others to advocate for themselves.

What both of these moments revealed to me is that an important condition of feeling able to advocate for oneself is having a supportive network and a safe space to do so. All of us, regardless of who we are, can be that support and create that space for someone else. We don’t need to have the platform or the public persona or even an overt intention to go out and advocate for a particular issue. By simply showing up, listening and supporting others, we are making it easier for others to advocate for themselves. And if we do have the privilege of a platform or a position of power or influence in any given situation, we need to share that platform, pass the mic and create a safe and supportive space for those who don’t have the opportunity to be heard to share their voices.

What I am realizing is that advocacy, like yoga, is a practice, something you need to commit to and work at. So I am going to start small, maybe telling the man-spreader on the train to move his legs so I can sit down. And build up from there. I want my child to know that she has a voice she can use to advocate for herself. But the best way she is going to learn that is from the actions I take and the example I set. So here goes.

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