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).