The Mother-To-Mother Fund is our ONLY official MOMS Club charity and is supported only by donations from the local chapters. Because of donations from chapters and volunteers in the past, we have been able to offer grants for emergency expenses to our MOMS Club mothers suffering from devastating financial and natural disasters.
History of the Fund
Since the MOMS Club began in 1983, natural disasters have struck very close to our mothers. There have been devastating snowstorms in the Northeast, hurricanes in Florida, the Eastern Seaboard and the Gulf Coast, tornadoes in Texas, Indiana, and Ohio, floods all across the Plains and Midwest, and fires in the South and West.
Although we have local MOMS Club chapters in all those areas, in our first 11 years, no members were seriously affected by those natural disasters. We were very lucky.
On January 17, 1994, at 4:31 AM, we were not so lucky. A major earthquake struck the Los Angeles area, destroying homes, schools, malls and freeways in the San Fernando and Simi Valleys. And that wasn’t all. Aftershocks continued — in the first week, there were over 1,000 aftershocks! Some homes which had escaped damage in the first quake, suffered extensive damage in later ones. Everyone who lived within the quake area lost possessions, but some people lost their homes and everything they owned.
No more had the dust settled after the first earthquake, than the International MOMS Club Coordinators began receiving calls from chapters in other parts of the country asking, “Were any MOMS Club mothers hurt? What can we do to help?”
We did a rapid survey of the local chapters in the affected area and confirmed that none of our 1,375 Southern California families living there at the time suffered loss of life. However, at least six families from two chapters, Simi Valley and Chatsworth/Northridge, had major damage to their homes, some of which made their homes “red-tagged” or uninhabitable. One family fled their quake-demolished apartment through a second-floor window with only their nightclothes on their backs. They were not allowed to return to their home for safety reasons for several weeks. By the time they were allowed to retrieve their things, thieves had stolen everything they owned.
As soon as the news about those six families was shared with our sister chapters across the country, the caring telephone calls were transformed into donations. Our Founder and Chairman, Mary James, set up the Mother-To-Mother Fund® to handle those donations and to distribute them to the needy MOMS Club families. Because it is too difficult in a time of disaster to coordinate clothing sizes and household needs, and because most of the families suffered losses that only money could help, it was decided the Mother-To-Mother Fund would only handle monetary donations. That way, the families could use the money for whatever needs were most pressing at the time — whether it was to get clothing, household items or shelter.
In the months after the Earthquake, $4,235.00 was contributed for the Southern California mothers-in-need and that entire amount was donated to the six members who applied for assistance. Some of those members said that the help given them by the Mother-To-Mother Fund was the best help they received because, even though it took several months for us to collect the final donations, the distribution still came before government and Red Cross assistance. Thanks to their sister MOMS Club members’ caring, those mothers were able to make a quicker start on their new lives.
In the year after the Earthquake, MOMS Club members experienced additional near-misses with natural disasters, including devastating wild fires, hurricanes, flooding, blizzards and still more tornadoes. With the thought that the Fund is of the most use if it is available before a disaster strikes, Ms. James decided to keep the Fund open so chapters could continue to donate to it in an ongoing way. This way, the Fund can provide emergency assistance practically immediately. We hope the Fund will be ready whenever a natural disaster strikes.
In 1996, several chapters asked if the purpose of the Mother-To-Mother Fund could be expanded to help mothers with devastating personal emergencies as well as natural disasters. Acting on that request, Ms. James asked the local chapters about the idea of expanding the purpose of the Fund. The universal response was, “Yes!” Now the Fund is also available to help mothers suffering devastating personal emergencies, such as abandonment, the need to flee an abusive spouse, help after the death of a spouse or severe accident, and assistance during a child or member’s life-threatening illness.
The Fund cannot take the place of other emergency assistance, such as insurance, state assistance and social service agencies, and it cannot replace the traditional personal support from chapters, like bringing meals or providing babysitting. With any devastating personal emergency, there must be a significant, long-lasting loss to the member’s family that was not caused by their actions. (For more information about the need requirements for a grant, see the “How to Request Help…” and the “When a Request Must Be Declined” sections of this Fact Sheet.)
In some cases of extreme need, in addition to direct grants to member families, the M2M Fund can also be used as a collection point for donations designated for particular families-in-need. This is only allowed in cases where a grant has already been approved by the Fund, and when the nature of the family’s need is recognized as being something that would warrant collecting contributions from other chapters, in addition to the member’s own chapter. This allows for a greater total amount of assistance to the family-in-need in extremely dire circumstances.
To give you an idea of what might qualify as an extremely dire circumstance, here are two situations when the Fund has collected additional donations earmarked for specific families:
- The first use of the Fund for additional donations for a personal emergency came when a Tennessee member died suddenly after giving birth to twins. The mother’s chapter helped the family by babysitting their older child, bringing meals, collecting baby clothes and diapers, and by rocking the babies in the hospital. A grant of $900 was given from the Mother-To-Mother Fund and local chapters donated an additional $809.50 to the Fund specifically for this family, making the total grant amount $1,709.50 given via the Fund to help this family transition to having an at-home father.
- Another use of the Fund for additional donations was after the tragedy of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Four of our mothers lost their husbands that day – three in the collapse of the World Trade Center and one in the Pentagon. Three of the mothers were pregnant at the time of the attack. The Mother-To-Mother Fund gave an immediate $5,000 grant for emergency living expenses to each of the four mothers – grants made possible by donations already in the Fund at the time of the attack.
Over the next several months, in addition to many local projects to benefit the many other victims of the terrorist attacks, 160 chapters and Coordinators did projects on their own specifically for our four mothers. Those donations specifically for the 9-11 moms enabled the Mother-To-Mother Fund to send them each an additional grant of $10,160.
As in the cases above, for additional donations to be earmarked for a specific member-in-need, there first must be a grant approved from the general Mother-To-Mother Fund. After that point, in certain extreme circumstances, the Fund will offer to collect donations from other chapters specifically for that member-in-need. The chapter must designate that family as the intended recipient of their donation at the time they send the contribution to the Fund.
The Fund will collect the donations for the family from all chapters contributing, and make one additional grant of the donated amount to that family. Designations of recipients may only be made by the chapter at the time they make their donation to the Fund and not all grant recipients are eligible for this additional assistance, so check with the M2M Fund Committee before sending any donations specifically for a particular family.
(If your chapter has a member-in-need who does not receive an M2M grant or who is not eligible for the additional collection of donations through the Fund, your chapter may still do local fundraisers to benefit your member-in-need. Discuss the situation with your Regional Coordinator before conducting any fundraisers for a chapter member to make sure your chapter follows all IRS nonprofit rules.)
A list of all the grants given to date is included in this Fact Sheet packet. All of the family situations were extremely grave. You will notice that there have been no grants to assist with birth defects, genetic illnesses, funerals, divorce or unemployment, without other mitigating factors. We can only help with problems in a member’s immediate family (the member, her husband, her children living at home). We cannot help with situations that involve extended family problems (a member’s father, mother, sibling, in-laws, children living elsewhere or on their own, etc.), even if their problems impact the member’s family, too.
Because the amount in the Fund is limited and there are 100,000+ MOMS Club families – with an estimated 360,000+ family members! – it is not possible for the Fund to assist in situations like the ones explained in the paragraph above, even though we know they are very difficult for the families involved. Instead, we must concentrate on only the most serious, unexpected, devastating events in a member’s immediate family. As you’ll see from the list of grant recipients, the money donated by the chapters to the Fund has helped members in a most significant way when faced with devastating personal or natural disasters.
We hope chapters will remember the Mother-To-Mother Fund and their sister members around the world as they plan service projects, or when they look at their chapter treasuries and realize they have a bit more tucked away than their chapter truly needs.
We don’t know what the future holds. We hope that each chapter will be there for their own members, and, working together, we hope that the Mother-To-Mother Fund will always be available to give an extra boost to those unfortunate members who have been hard hit by natural or unexpected devastating personal disasters.
Donating to the Mother -to-Mother Fund
The Mother-To-Mother Fund depends on donations from local chapters. If there are no donations, then there will not be money available to help in an emergency.
At this time, administrative costs are handled from the International MOMS Club treasury, so 100% of all donations to the Fund are used or reserved for members-in-need.
For the Mother-To-Mother Fund to have money when grants are needed, that money must first be donated by the chapters!
Because the Fund depends on the chapters’ support, when the decision is made on the amount of a grant, the Committee does take into consideration the amount of support a chapter has given the Fund in the past. All chapters need to remember, though, that the Committee cannot give a grant if the member’s situation does not fit the requirements of the Fund.
Also, the chapters must remember that the Fund is not a bank, where money donated by an individual chapter is stored and made available solely for their members’ needs. Instead, the Fund operates on the premise that if everyone contributes to the Fund as they can, the Fund will be available to those who need it, when they need it.
If a member’s need fits the Fund’s requirements, the amount of assistance we are able to give at any time depends on both the need of the member at the time of the request, and the generosity of the local chapters before the grant is requested.
Through the years, the chapters’ support of the Fund has increased along with our membership, so we have been able to give more substantial grants than in the beginning, even for the same reasons. The amount of money in the Fund at the time of the grant request and the potential other needs for that money by other members-in-need in the near future, will always be considered in the determination of the amount of a grant.
To do their part in keeping the Mother-To-Mother Fund supplied with grant money, some chapters plan specific fundraisers to help the Fund each year. Others contribute extra money from their treasury on a regular basis. Some chapters have donated small amounts, several times during the year; other chapters have sent checks for many hundreds – even thousands – of dollars at a time. In all cases, the contributions have made a real difference in the lives of MOMS Club members-in-need who were not even known at the time of the donations.
Each chapter and individual donor who contributes to the Mother-To-Mother Fund directly will receive a letter acknowledging their donation. That letter is their receipt.
Also, each year, the chapters which have contributed to the MOMS Club Mother-To-Mother Fund will receive certificate recognitions of their support. These certificates are usually presented at President Workshops in the late summer or fall, or at State or Regional Luncheons in the fall or spring.
Support of the Fund is considered in choosing the MOMS Club Outstanding Chapters each year. A chapter must contribute to the Mother-To-Mother Fund to be recognized as a MOMS Club Outstanding Chapter for that year. For more information about the Outstanding Chapter recognition, contact your Regional Coordinator.
We know from past hurricanes, floods, blizzards, tornadoes and earthquakes, that natural disasters come when you least expect them and that terrorists thrive on being unpredictable. We also know that, no matter how hard a family tries to make careful choices and to save a nest egg for their future, tragedies and personal emergencies that no one could prepare for or expect can happen to the best of us.
When the worst does happen, we hope that no MOMS Club member ever has to face a devastating emergency on her own. Instead, by standing together, both in our local chapters and on the International level with the MOMS Club Mother-to-Mother Fund, we hope to be there, ready to give a helping hand to any of our mothers suffering from devastating personal financial or natural emergencies.
Requesting help from the Mother-to-Mother Fund
The Mother-To-Mother Fund is not designed to replace the individual and personal help that a chapter can offer its members-in-need. Therefore, the first thing any chapter must do when they have a member with an emergency is determine what help the chapter can offer the member first.
The type of help a member may need will depend on the type of emergency she is experiencing. Not all emergencies require money to help. Many families need babysitting, meals or groceries, carpooling, clothing/toys/household items, help applying for government services, or even a friendly ear, far more than they need cash contributions.
When an emergency hits that can only be eased by money, the chapter should again see first what they can do to help. Many chapters plan fundraisers specifically to help a member-in-need, and such a fundraiser is an appropriate use of chapter time and effort. Two examples of chapter fundraisers for needy members in the past include a barbecue to raise money for a member’s child who needed a kidney transplant, and a restaurant fundraiser & raffle for a family whose husband was being treated for brain cancer. In both of those cases, the chapters also had been providing extensive babysitting and bringing meals.
If additional help is needed for the family, then the chapter’s president should contact their Regional Coordinator to ask for a Mother-To-Mother Fund grant. Be sure to include information on what emergency the family is experiencing, the family’s situation (their general financial state and whether insurance will cover any or all of the situation), and what they need the most (how the grant will be spent). Because the Committee always confirms the information, the member-in-need’s name, address and telephone number must always be included.
It is important that before you contact your Coordinator, you ask the member-in-need if she would be willing to receive assistance from the Fund. Some families are very private and do not want “outsiders” knowing of their problems. In those cases, the family’s privacy must be respected.
Also, although we do not directly publicize a grant recipient’s name, we do share with the chapters the recipient’s home state, the situation and the amount of the grant. Also, the IRS requires that we report the names and addresses of all grant recipients. Because of that, it is likely that people who know her will be able to identify that she has received a grant and how much it was. If she is not willing to have that information known, we cannot award a grant.
A chapter should only forward to their RC the name and situation of a mother-in-need if they think her situation fits the requirements of the M2M Fund and if they think that she is truly deserving and needing a grant. The chapter’s evaluation of the mother’s situation is the first-line in our consideration. If a chapter does not think that the situation fits the Mother-To-Mother Fund requirements or that the mother’s situation is not needy enough to warrant their endorsement, they should not submit her name and situation to their RC.
If the family is open to help from the Mother-To-Mother Fund and the chapter feels that the member’s situation deserves to be considered for a grant, the Regional Coordinator will take the chapter’s request to the International MOMS Club’s Mother-To-Mother Fund Committee. If there is no committee at the time of the request, then the International Board of Directors will act as the committee. Each request will be considered individually. Although the information submitted by the chapter must include the name and address of the member-in-need, the Committee/Board will consider the request “blind” to the identity of the MOMS Club member, so all requests will be considered fairly.
Decisions on whether a grant will be made to the member-in-need and how much the grant might be will be based on a variety of factors.
- Those factors include:
- The member’s need;
- The circumstances/situation leading to that need;
- The chapter’s support of the Fund in the past;
- And the amount of money available in the Fund at that time.
All requests for grants are considered very carefully. The chapter may be asked additional questions to help determine the member’s need, financial situation or other factors. The Committee will ask any additional questions to the chapter, which should answer them either with information from first-hand knowledge or by asking the member-in-need. The member-in-need should not be asked by the chapter to correspond directly with the Committee – all questions and answers should go through the chapter. If the chapter has any doubt about the completeness or truth of any answers given them by the member, they must share their concerns with the Committee.
All decisions by the Committee shall be final.
Any money given by the Fund to a member-in-need should be considered a one-time grant. Because it is a grant, the member does not need to repay the M2M Fund or the MOMS Club. Each grant is given for a specific purpose, but the member may use the grant for whatever purpose she feels is the most pressing for her family at that time. However the money is used, any applicable taxes are the responsibility of the recipient and she should take those taxes into consideration before the money is spent.
The identity of any recipients will not be directly publicized, but the general situation, grant amount and state of residence will be made available to the members and chapters so they know how their contributions have been used. It will be possible for someone familiar with the recipient’s family to discern her identity from that information, even though the International MOMS Club does not publish the name of the recipient.
If a recipient wishes complete privacy without any identifying information being made available to the members, then she must not accept the grant. We respect the recipients’ privacy by not publishing their names, but it is imperative that the members know how their donations have been used. Also, the IRS requires that we report the names of the recipients, their addresses and grants each year. Therefore, we cannot guarantee confidentiality concerning the identity of a recipient.