posted in Mom Stories
Some people get together and talk about doing good. Others actually do it.
Being of the former persuasion, I am in awe of Chicago’s “milk ladies”– eight women who founded Infant, Inc, a non-profit organization that has been distributing formula and clothing to families in need for 30 years.
In reaction to a news report in the early 1980s, exposing the city’s problems with infant mortality and child malnourishment, a report which coincided with cuts to the federally funded WIC program, co-founder Dortothy Clarke shared her desire to do something to help with some of her old high-school friends.
“I have eight [children] of my own. There’s nothing worse than to see a child hungry,” said co-founder Barb Isaacson, 80. “We decided to do something about it in our own little way.”
Go-getters that they are, within weeks they made their first donation to charity pantries in the Chicago area. While out in the field, the women were struck with the magnitude of the problem of hungry babies:
So many new mothers couldn’t make ends meet. Many were stuck in limbo waiting for welfare eligibility to kick in while their babies went without. Others were malnourished or rebounding from drug addictions and couldn’t provide breast milk.
“It was such a shock to find out, but there was really no judgment involved,” said Clarke, 80. “They’re babies. They need to be fed.”
Cleverly, the name of the charity, Infant, stands for “Infants Need to Find Adequate Nourishment Today.” Even more clever, is, despite a bare bones website, these women have raised $2.6 million in donations and grants.
Infant, Inc’s mission offers insight into what went into the decision to distribute formula:
“Infant formula, though vital to the proper nourishment of non-breast-fed babies, is seldom donated to food drives and is not regularly available at many food pantries. Establishing a program to provide formula for needy infants is time consuming and often takes several weeks. Some babies are undersupplied by WIC or require special formulas that are difficult to obtain. INFANT, Inc. can respond to this need in a timely fashion.”
Today, some of the original Infant, Inc founders, now in their eighties, along with their offspring and new volunteers, still make monthly “milk runs” to distribute formula, diapers, and newborn layettes– which include hand-knit sweaters, hats and blankets– to food pantries and homeless shelters.
The milk ladies of Chicago inspire me on a “chilly” Monday afternoon. As I speak of being “chilly” while sitting in my warm, dry home, while my children sit in well-lit classrooms with full bellies, I realize how just how privileged I am. I don’t know anyone personally who has put sugar water in their baby’s bottle to feed them, but I know they are out there, everywhere, perhaps just down the road, and that is a sad reality.
Anything to say to the milk ladies of Chicago?
Read more from source:“babycenter-com-baby”
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