Mother’s Day is not just a one-day-a-year thought for Staci Richards, busy mom and business owner. She thinks about it almost every day all year long. And the thinking and work she does often goes on far into many nights, as well. It also involves lots of communication, travel, gift buying, wrapping or packaging, and giving and listening. The stories she hears are amazing and ones she’ll never be able to forget.
Richards said she founded the Adopt A Mom program in 2010 as a grassroots effort to raise money to recognize victims of domestic violence against mothers and support efforts to better their lives and those of their children. She says she respects these women for the sacrifices they have made to better their situations, many of them more terrible than one could believe. When she was thinking about celebrating her own Mother’s Day with her family, the thought dawned on her, “What about women in shelters and safe houses? What do those moms get? How can their children come up with a gift?”
Knowing that money and transportation were often limited for these moms and their children, she set out to collect a few gifts to help the women she could locate in her own area, and within two weeks, Richards was amazed at the ball that was rolling. Not only was the group able to help women in Southeast Texas, but the momentum also carried over to women in the Rio Grande Valley.
Driven primarily by a word-of-mouth effort and small donations, more than 100 mothers were given a gift from Adopt A Mom in 2010. The program continued to grow and find support and by 2011, 400 mothers were recognized with a special gift on Mother’s Day. In 2010, Richards said the goal of the foundation is to reach 1,000 women in Texas with a nice gift to celebrate one of the most meaningful holidays for women.
Adopt A Mom is now recognized in the state of Texas as a nonprofit corporation and is a federally registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit foundation. The mission states that Adopt A Mom exists to help raise awareness of domestic violence against mothers, empower these women, and help to break the cycle of this silent epidemic. It also helps to provide a place of resource for mothers, including but not limited to advocacy, career development, money management training, support groups, and basic necessities in a safe and nurturing environment. In the future, the foundation seeks the place an Adopt A Mom house in every major city in the United States.
Richards sees these homes as a place in the community where moms can come for support and where women who were once victims can be victors and come together to share and care with one another. She wants the houses to be warm places where the children who have been exposed to violence can find support. Eventually, these homes will help to establish a network of survivors and build a larger network to facilitate a healthy, safe environment while raising the quality of life for women and children.Adopt A Mom also plans to continue the Mother’s Day gifting program and believe that so much can be said with a simple token gift. In some cases, these mothers have never once received a gift on Mother’s Day. Adopt A Mom wants these women to know that someone does care, they are appreciated and loved, and they have the support of their community to make their lives and the lives of their children better. The program works with moms referred by Texas Family and Children’s Services and other local agencies as well as personal referrals.
Richards explained that the program has now located warehouses for storing and wrapping, and that they are able to buy quantities of needed gifts at wholesale prices. “Other companies and manufacturers have donated gifts for our moms, and every gift is appreciated,” said Richards. “Seeing the joy on the face of a mom is a blessing to all who participate.”
When Richards is not volunteering for Adopt A Mom, she is busy in the family business that she and husband, Daniel, own. The busy couple has owned three Park Avenue Cleaners since 1999. One is located at 2608 Calder at 10th, one at 6755 Phelan, and one at 4105 Dowlen. The Richards have a 5-year-old daughter, Peyton, and a 2-year-old son, Preston.
Adopt A Mom wishes every woman in our area a very Happy Mother’s Day and expresses appreciation for the generous help they have received to provide gifts to all moms in every circumstance. “It is because folks have gotten on board and became informed and willing to help that we can do what we have done thus far. I look forward to seeing this mission spread across the nation,” said Richards. “Every woman deserves to be honored.”
The Adopt A Mom program can be reached by calling (409) 351-5433 or you can write staci [at] adoptamomonline [dot] org for additional information. Donations to help with the program can be made by going to the Web site at www.adoptamomonline.org  or mailed to Adopt A Mom, P.O. Box 22542, Beaumont, TX 77720.
Brenda Cannon Henley can be reached at (409) 781-8788 or at brendacannonhenley [at] yahoo [dot] com.