GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Don’t be misled by the name, MomsBloom a nonprofit serving Kent and Ottawa counties is not just for moms. The nonprofit serves interested parties that are caring for an infant(s) 0-3 months of age, in the comfort of their own home.
Families of all backgrounds are encouraged to apply. The organization has no income restrictions and gladly serves birthing parents, adoptive parents, LGBTQ+ parents, and anyone who is raising a newborn.
According to Executive Director Carrie Kolehouse, the organization is stepping up to meet the growing need for in-home postpartum help in West Michigan.
With the stress of the pandemic, higher expectations on parenting, and increasingly global society, many families find themselves without adequate support when they bring home a new baby. The cooking, cleaning, baby holding, and other nurturing actions that one's family and friends once did are often not possible and this means that some parents and caretakers are going through that exhausting, isolating postpartum stage all alone.
MomsBloom seeks to fill that gap by sending trained postpartum support volunteers into the homes of parents who've reached out and asked for help. Many families are referred by nurses, doctors, social workers, or concerned friends and family.
MomsBloom volunteers stop by once or twice a week for a few hours at a time to give the whole family caring, non-judgmental, and loving support. This comes in the form of offering the chance to nap or shower, soothing babies, preparing food, doing laundry or dishes; whatever will relieve stress for the tired and overwhelmed parents.
While the organization was founded over a decade ago, it has recently been growing rapidly, with a particular focus on expanding services into communities that have been historically underserved.
"There are many reasons why mothers of color are often at higher risk of health problems or even death during birth and during the postpartum phase," says MomsBloom board member Kiara Baskin. "That's why we're so passionate about helping to bridge that disparity, by making sure the opportunity to have birth and postpartum support is available to women of color in our community."
In addition to serving an increasingly diverse clientele, the organization is continually seeking more volunteers who represent diverse backgrounds to sign up to serve families. The volunteer commitment requires just 2-3 hours per week, and training can be completed in a couple of hours too.
Mothers like Vanessa Cervantes say that the support of MomsBloom was game-changing during a difficult postpartum stage. "I never had postpartum depression with my other kids but this last one hit different," says Vanessa. "It was something I couldn’t control, but when I signed up for MomsBloom things changed. My volunteer was more than a volunteer - she was a mentor and a sister to me. I looked forward to her visits. She helped me overcome this and I’m forever grateful for her."
While it's not surprising that mothers appreciate having help during their postpartum time, MomsBloom reports receiving just as much positive feedback from volunteers about how meaningful and enjoyable their volunteer time is. Volunteer Tara Allen, who recently served a family with newborn twins, said, "Knowing that I was alleviating some daily stress of caring for twins was very fulfilling. Their mother was extremely appreciative of having an extra set of hands to help with household chores, to help care for the babies, and to give her much-needed breaks for a quick shower or phone call."
"We often hear from volunteers that they feel they are getting more out of the experience than the parents they are serving," says Kolehouse. "Since we match just one volunteer with one family at a time, it has been a safer volunteering opportunity for many people, and I think that's why we've continued to grow our reach despite the pandemic."
If you're interested in signing up to volunteer with MomsBloom or receiving services, visit momsbloom.org [momsbloom.org].