Creating Stability for 40 Years
Editor’s Note: As we face the current COVID-19 crisis, the need to work together to create stability is greater than ever before. We are grateful for a community who continues to come together to support one another as we face this challenge together.
At MOM, we have always believed in the power of community coming together to make a difference for our neighbors. In fact, that’s how we got started forty years ago this month.
MOM was founded when community members at St. Luke’s Lutheran Church recognized that there were neighbors who could benefit from their help. Generous pledges and gifts from St. Luke’s congregation along with a matching grant from American Lutheran Church got the new outreach effort up and running with enough funds to last four years. In March 1980, MOM (then Middleton Outreach Mission) hired our first executive director and began providing basic necessities to families in our community in an effort to help them establish stability.
In the following years, other churches, individuals, and businesses joined the effort as MOM identified community needs and created programs to address them. MOM’s first organized program was the Good Neighbor Program to Apartment Residents, designed to “improve the physical, mental and spiritual quality of life” of people in the surrounding area. An emergency assistance program and what was known as the Hubbard Cupboard Food Pantry soon followed. Two years later in 1983, the Project to Older People or POP (cleverly creating a “MOM and POP organization”) began serving seniors. By 1984, MOM supporters decided MOM was here to stay and officially organized as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
MOM continuously sought new ways to help families create food and housing security. Programs that provided clothing, school supplies, Thanksgiving baskets and holiday gifts launched around 2000. MOM hired case managers who work with families and individuals holistically, helping connect them with other community resources, and finding solutions that provide stability. Meanwhile, existing programs continued growing. For example, MOM’s Food Pantry distributed 34,000 pounds of food in 1990, 84,000 pounds in 2000 and 430,000 pounds in 2010. This growth meant that additional space was needed. MOM offices moved from St. Luke’s to Middleton Community Church to Hubbard Avenue in 1999. The Food Pantry settled in a new home in the Middleton Business Park in 2003.
Recognizing the ways that MOM had grown as an organization and had adapted to meet community needs, in 2009 MOM went through a process of realignment to reflect those changes. After meeting with community churches and other stakeholders, MOM’s Board of Directors made a strategic decision to restructure MOM, moving to a community-based model. This was done with acknowledgement of the critical role churches play in supporting MOM’s mission. MOM’s mission of creating stability and our values of treating everyone with dignity and fostering a sense of hope remained the same even as the new governance structure more openly encouraged the entire community including churches, volunteers, donors, businesses and other groups to support that mission.
At the same time, MOM began looking for a permanent home that could bring the offices and Food Pantry together in one location. We arrived at our current location on Parmenter Avenue in 2012 after a successful capital campaign. In 2019, MOM distributed 1.3 million pounds of food to families in need, three times as much as only a decade ago. MOM experienced sizable growth in nearly every other program also.
While much has changed in our 40-year history, much has also stayed the same. Our work is still made possible by our community including more than 400 regular volunteers and 8,000 current donors. In fact, MOM is 100% funded by the community and does not rely on any government support. And we are still committed to creating stability for people in our community. Thank you for your support for the last 40 years. We look forward to continuing to work together in the years to come to build a better community for everyone.
Thanks to the support of the community, the Food Pantry has grown and adapted to meet the needs of people in our community and reflect current best practices. We have gone from distributing 34,000 pounds in 1990 to 1.3 million pounds in 2019.
Truly a community program, the Clothing Center grew from the idea of a dedicated volunteer in 1999. Throughout twenty years of moves and changes, the Clothing Center has remained a completely volunteer-staffed enterprise while expanding to serve more people. Last year alone, the Clothing Center distributed 127,000 pounds of clothing.
From the beginning, MOM has worked to create housing stability and prevent homelessness, utilizing a variety of programs to address the housing needs of people in our community. Those efforts continue to today. MOM gave out 516 grants last year as part of our Stable Housing Program which now includes rent assistance, Good Samaritan funds and utility assistance.
In 1984, Oakwood Lutheran Church approached MOM and asked for assistance in determining the needs of seniors in our community.The result was the formation of The Project for Older People, known as POP. In 2010, the name of the program changed to Seniors Program. Yet through the years, the goals have stayed the same.
MOM has a variety of seasonal programs designed to help families with specific needs during certain times of the year. Made possible through the time and generosity of volunteers and donors, these programs demonstrate the community’s involvement in MOM’s work.
Connie Ott has been volunteering with MOM for about as long as MOM has been in existence. Her family helped with a Christmas dinner for many years. After Connie retired in 1999, she took on a bigger role, helping to start what was then called the Clothing Closet.
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