Last summer, after reading about several baby-shaking incidents over the course of just a few weeks, I decided that someone should start a charity that gifts baby carriers to parents that might not otherwise have access to them, and also serves to educate parents about babywearing. It is my feeling that so many infant abuse cases could be avoided if more parents and caregivers knew about, and had access to, babywearing. I know from personal experience how much difference a good baby carrier makes, when trying to soothe a high-needs baby. I also decided that if no one had already begun such a charity, I would do it myself.
Thankfully, there was already a non-profit devoted to gifting baby carriers to low-income families, and providing babywearing support and information. This wonderful organization is called No Mother Left Behind, and it had already been doing its good deeds for a year before I discovered it!
Recently, I had the chance to interview the owner of No Mother Left Behind, Andrea Howard. Please enjoy the following interview. It’s the first of four babywearing non-profit profiles I will be sharing with you this week. If you love babywearing as much as I do, consider donating your time and/or money to one or all of these wonderful organizations!
Q: I know that Mary Finch originally founded No Mother Left Behind (NMLB). How did you become involved with the organization?
A: I became involved with the organization when Mary decided to step back from NMLB and focus on her family. She needed someone to take over, and being a big babywearing advocate I jumped at the chance to help mothers wear their babies!
Q: Could you briefly explain NMLB’s purpose, for those not familiar with it?
A: No Mother is a non-profit babywearing organization that helps low-income mothers wear their babies. We accept donations from individuals, WAHMs and companies and redistribute them to mothers who have been approved through our application process.
Q: When was NMLB founded? How many carriers have been gifted so far?
A: No Mother Left Behind was founded almost two years ago, in October 2006. To date, we have donated over 350 carriers and the number grows daily!
Q: What is the best part about being the owner of an organization like NMLB?
A:The best thing about being a part of this program is knowing that I am helping mothers to wear their babies. I get such a great feeling when I read an email saying ‘My sling got here today, and I love it! My baby is so much happier!’.
Q: What is the hardest/most challenging part of being involved with NMLB?
The hardest part is managing it all! NMLB is really growing and keeping up with emails and questions is getting tricky, especially with a 2 year old and a new baby due soon. We’re expanding, though, and I’m already feeling better about the changes in NMLB!
Q: Why do you feel that every parent should have access to a baby carrier?
A: I feel that every parent should have access to a baby carrier because for babies, touch and closeness with their parents is an important a need as food, sleep and a clean diaper- but it is also one of the most overlooked needs. It makes me sad to see ‘baby needs’ lists with strollers on the must-have list, and slings/carriers on the ‘extras’ list. There is something backward about that! Babies don’t only WANT to be held- they NEED to be held in order to grow and thrive. Babywearing makes meeting this need so much easier- I don’t know how I’d have survived the first year without babywearing! Every parent needs to be able to provide this for their baby.
A: How can a person get involved with NMLB? How much time and money would be required if one wished to volunteer? What about donating homemade or used slings?
A: To donate a sling, all one needs to do is fill out the donation form on our website, and we will contact you with instructions for sending your sling in. Homemade and used slings, provided they are still safe to use, are always welcome! If someone wishes to volunteer, they can donate as much or as little time as they wish. We do not expect our volunteers to donate any money- just their time is more than enough! All anyone needs to do is send us an email and offer up their time/services- we can almost always find something for someone to do!
Q: How can a person find out if they would qualify for a carrier from NMLB? How does one go about applying?
A: To apply for a sling, an applicant needs to fill out the application found on our website (or print one and mail it in via post). After the application is received, they are required to send in proof of low income, photo ID and a small fee of $5 to cover shipping their new sling to them.
Q: Do you have volunteers in every region of the country?
A: We have volunteers across seven ‘zones’ in the United States. These volunteers are responsible for keeping an inventory of donated carriers and sending out carriers to approved applicants. We also have volunteers helping to process applications, direct donations, fundraise and spread the word about NMLB.
Q: Could you tell me about the changes you mentioned earlier?
A: We’ve recently expanded NMLB and brought on a ton of new volunteers. We’ve split up the ‘jobs’ and I am breathing a sigh of relief at not being in charge of all aspects of NMLB anymore! I am so grateful for everyone who’s volunteered to help bring slings to mothers who need them.
Thank you, Andrea, for taking the time to answer my questions, and for giving so much of your time and heart to such a worthy cause!
To learn more, visit No Mother Left Behind today!