How It Started
FOUNDED (How it all began)
The Meadow Rose Society had been on Kathereen Kessler’s mind for a number of years; twenty-four years to be exact. When her son was born, the family lived in a rural area of Chilliwack. One Sunday morning, Kathereen awoke to give her son formula and on opening the cupboard, realized she didn’t have any. She’d thought she had extra.
Her heart sank. She had no car. Her husband was away in camp. Her parents were away for the weekend.
Finally, Kathereen reached a friend who brought her formula, but the feeling of not being able to give her child what she needed to was heartbreaking. This feeling stuck with her for years.
Eighteen years later, her son grown to adulthood, Kathereen began volunteering for a few charities that helped people in need. She took on the role of Director for a Non-Profit aiding babies and toddlers. She held that role for approximately six years.
Kathereen noticed there was a great need for baby supplies. That need was growing and growing, from people on assistance to people living pay cheque to pay cheque (the working poor). She would get calls from moms who had no way of getting into town. Calls would come from rural areas, as well, such as Hope. As she was not able to help these families in the context of the non-profit she was Director of, Kathereen realized that something needed to be done.
There are charities in town which offer a little help, but infants and toddlers are not their main concern. Community Services is great at all their programs, but handing out baby supplies for families in need is at the bottom of their list. The same goes for other non-profits. Food banks and soup kitchens put very little emphasis on supporting infants and toddlers. The main food bank in town is only able to distribute what they have on hand at any given time and those items usually aren’t for babies.
The sad truth is that children under three inhabit a gap that other non-profits and charities have not filled and that’s why the Meadow Rose Society was born.
The Meadow Rose Society’s one and only concern is babies and toddlers. MRS endeavours to always have on hand what families need, or they will find it. Special dietary formula or larger furniture items that the Society doesn’t have on hand is sourced from community partners and provided to families in need as part of what Meadow Rose does.
The first year of life is crucial to the healthy development of children. Our children feel the stress of want any age, but during that pivotal first year, its impact can have lasting consequences. Just taking away a little of that stress makes for happier babies and happier families.
Each family can come in twice per month. Many of the families Meadow Rose helps make “too much” money for additional support, according to the Ministry of Social Development, so MRS can fill the gap. A lot of these families MRS might only see once, to assist with a special circumstance like a child needing glasses or a parent needing medication during a month when money was already tight. Things happen in life and a child should not have to suffer due to the limited circumstances of the family it has been born into.
The community has really embraced the Meadow Rose Society. People often say, “I wish you were around when my children were born”, or “I have been there and I know what parents are going through. I just want to help” Every social worker and teacher and nurse Meadow Rose has come in contact with with has agreed that the Society is filling a gap in the community.
MRS learned about a mom who could not breastfeed. After buying formula and all other baby necessities, she was left with no money to buy food for herself, In her baby’s first year of life, this mother lost 30 pounds (in addition to weight gained during the pregnancy). Formula is very expensive and we always tell expecting women that breastfeeding is the very best option. We never put formula in gift baskets that we give out. Some moms just cannot breastfeed.
Baby furniture is another thing that is hard for parents to buy. Thrift stores are not allowed to sell cribs and car seats. Buying new is the only option. The Meadow Rose Society wants to be able to supply cribs and to pay forward the cribs we do supply. Paying forward the car seats we supply can be a little more difficult, because you can’t always discern when they’re damaged and ICBC oversees strict regulations around car seats for infants and toddlers (for their safety and security). For this reason, we’re always grateful when these are donated. This year MRS received ten new car seats from BCAA. Next year, we have to ask for a lot more of them, as the need is so great and the item so strictly regulated for the safety of our young children that they must be supplied to us new, if at all possible.
The Meadow Rose Society has helped a lot of families – some just once, others every month and some once in a while. The Meadow Rose Society is there for families in need seven days a week. MRS recently received a call from a young mother on its emergency line, saying, “I need help, my baby is sick and has diarrhea, I have no money for diapers. Can you help?” Meadow Rose was able to help. There is not another charity that will help on a Saturday or Sunday, babies don’t go by the day of the week and either does the Meadow Rose Society.
The Meadow Rose Society hopes to grow in this community and beyond to be a support to families with young children in need throughout British Columbia. By helping build healthy babies, Meadow Rose looks forward to a healthy tomorrow.