We recently spoke with Samantha Schumacher of the Vancouver charity Mom2Mom to find out more about their organization that supports mothers living in poverty.
Describe your charity/non-profit in a few sentences.
At Mom2Mom, we improve the lives of children in poverty by supporting their moms. We do this by providing moms facing the dual challenges of poverty and solo-parenting with access to additional resources that make a big impact on family life. From groceries and basic household items to extra-curricular activities for children and help during unforeseen emergencies, Mom2Mom gives moms access to a supportive community all year long. We also connect each participant with a relationship volunteer who provides non-judgmental, stable support.
What problem does it aim to solve?
We aim to reduce the stress of poverty for moms and children living in Vancouver by providing emotional and practical support. 50% of lone-parent families in BC live in poverty. Most of these families are female led. Solo-parenting is already a tremendous challenge. When this responsibility is compounded with the soaring cost of essential living expenses, the scarcity of childcare and the physical and emotional isolation of motherhood, every day is a struggle. Research shows that children living in poverty are the most likely to have compromised cognitive development, poor mental and physical health, and poor educational outcomes. But, when moms are connected and supported, their children can grow and thrive despite poverty-related stress.
When did you start/join it?
I have been working with Mom2Mom since 2018. I first began with the organization as a Co-op student while I was completing my degree at UBC. I joined the organization full-time in January of 2021 after I graduated.
What made you want to get involved
What initially drew me to Mom2Mom was its unique approach to helping children living in poverty by supporting their moms. I also appreciated that M2M was focused on addressing social isolation, something that is rarely discussed as an impact of poverty. Moms already face tremendous pressure in our society, and for moms living in poverty that judgement is even harsher. When we give moms a place to feel valued, accepted, and supported, the entire family benefits.
What was the situation like when you started?
M2M is a relatively young organization, founded in 2012. When I first started, the organization was in a transitionary period with a very small team. The organization was also struggling to recruit enough volunteers to keep up with the number of participant moms we had connected to our program.
How has it changed since?
Largely due to COVID-19 forcing us to adapt our program quickly and giving us the time to really focus on development, Mom2Mom has come a long way since I started in 2018. We have hired new staff and clarified roles and responsibilities; developed policies and guidelines for all programming, such as our volunteer program and monthly grocery stipend; improved our social media presence and website; and created new community partnerships. The demand for the program is still high, but our volunteer recruitment is much stronger; we now have each participant mom connected with at least one volunteer.
What more needs to be done?
We would love to develop the program even further, especially as restrictions ease and we are able to host in-person events once again. We also want to be more integrated into our community in order to connect moms with other supports. We would also be interested in participating in more advocacy-based work, ideally with leadership from moms in our program. Community building is essential to the work we do, as there is no way we alone could provide the support moms and children living in poverty need.
How can our readers help?
By donating to our organization, following our social pages, and sharing the work we are doing. It is also important that people are educating themselves on the structural failures that perpetuate poverty. As a society, we need to shift our thinking away from the idea that poverty is an individual failure.
Where can we follow you?
PAY IT FORWARD: What is an awesome local charity that you love?
Recently, we connected M2M participants with Urban Horse Project who provide sessions of equine assisted learning to teach important life skills like communication, teamwork, and confidence. We are also big fans of BabyGoRound, who provide essential baby items to families living in poverty.