When I created My Kindness Calendar, it was important for me to have a clear set of values underlying not only my products but also my company. As a product whose whole raison d'être is to encourage the daily practice of kindness, it was critical to me that, as a company, we "practiced what we preached". Having worked for years at a national social-enterprise, I have seen companies doing innovative things through their giving and partnership models, and was excited to build a brand that would be amongst these companies doing great things.
And this is why, since launching over 2 years ago, we have built a platform for giving into our brand. Every year, My Kindness Calendar donates 5% of profits, plus in-kind donations of product, to deserving charities doing great work on issues we are passionate about. And as a mom-run business looking to help families raise kids with confidence and kindness, we usually find ourselves working with charities doing great things for children, mamas and their families, and their mental health and wellness.
Which brings us to our current charity partner, with whom we've been working this past year. We are thrilled to introduce you to Mamas For Mamas, and the incredible work they do across the country for mothers and children. We are honoured to be working with them this year!
Mamas For Mamas is a specialized poverty relief agency and community for mothers and caregivers. They are a tech charity who began as a small online trading community of mothers helping other mothers, and has grown to dozens of digital chapters nationwide that help to remove barriers to poverty through digital sharing economies. Not only can moms reach out to other mothers for essential items needed to raise kids today, but their unique focus on community building and empowerment helps to address emotional poverty and community isolation that can exist for new parents as well. They are creating online communities across the country of mothers donating, sharing, supporting and connecting with one another to improve quality of life and create local and national connections. Headquartered in Kelowna, B.C., they also have physical office space where mothers and kids can access mental health services through social workers, shop for necessities at the Karma (free) Market and have a space to meet and build connections. Further plans include expanding their physical presence across the country, including into Toronto, Ontario for 2020 (yay!)
When I was looking for a charity partner for this year, there were so many appealing things about the work that Mamas For Mamas does. First of all, their mantra and values - "Kindness as Currency" - which couldn't be a better fit! I wanted to get money into the hands of a charity doing great work for families, and calendars into the hands of those deserving families directly. After an amazingly successful program with Family Service Toronto last year (thanks to our give-back program and a generous donation from Ridley Windows and Doors) where calendars were gifted to women with young children who were abuse survivors, I wanted to continue to provide in-kind donations to families across the country who could benefit in the same way. The feedback from our program last year was great - being able to focus on something kind and full of love was a great way for families to stay connected over the holidays, especially when they may carry memories of former pain and trauma from previous seasons. As a tool of post-traumatic growth, being able to show acts of kindness to others could be very healing for these families. Mamas For Mamas' national online communities were a perfect fit. Plus, with their expansion into Ontario for 2020, I knew my financial donation could support a wonderful organization looking to grow its presence right here in my own backyard - perfect!
But beyond their reach, it's also their story that had me convinced. And specifically the story of founder Shannon Christensen and HER mom. I remember listening to an interview about what led Shannon on her current path - studying psychology, earning a masters degree and becoming a trauma therapist, and eventually founding Mamas For Mamas. It was Shannon's struggle with depression and mental illness as a young child that stood out to me. She spoke about how challenging it was to grow up as a young girl with depression, with few resources for kids' mental health available, and just as few answers on what to do or how to help her through unexplained feelings and thoughts. And as she spoke about these challenges, she said one things that stood out to me - "my mom never gave up on me and did anything she could to help".
And right there, for that reason, I knew I'd found the charity I wanted to support this year. Because, don't we all, as moms, want to do everything we can for our kids? And don't we always try our best, even when we don't exactly know what to do? But when we try, look what can happen. A child, like Shannon, can grow up to be a powerhouse of strength and kindness who will impact, shape and change the lives of so many other moms and children, all thanks to the love from HER mama. And just think what all of the kids, whose mothers have now been given a hand up from Mamas For Mamas to be the best parents they can be as well, will go on to accomplish as well. This is kindness. Simple acts of kindness and love will make ripples. And soon waves. Touching so many people along the way. I think about this for my own kids, as I'm sure we all do.
So thank you to Shannon, her mom, and the whole Mamas For Mamas team, for the incredible work you do, kindness you show, and inspiration you bring. We are honoured to be working with you and your Mamas this year!