MomsBloom officially launched the Flourishing Families program in February 2008 when it obtained tax-exempt status. It was developed in response to the expressed need for increased social and emotional supports in Kent County.
Sara Binkley-Tow and Angie Walters met at a local MOMS Club in Grand Rapids, Michigan when their first-born children were just a few months old. They quickly became good friends and had many discussions around the lack of social supports for new moms. After a couple years of research locally and across the country for information that addressed this issue, Sara and Angie came across an article in “Mothering” magazine about the Many Mothers program in Santa Fe, New Mexico. At the same time, Alice Christensen, came across the same article and contacted the Executive Director of Many Mothers and asked how a program like theirs could be started in the Grand Rapids area.
The executive director connected the three women to each other. They discussed their personal experiences (as parent educators, postpartum doulas and lactation specialists) and their experiences with other mothers in the community. The women confirmed the need for a program like Many Mothers in Kent County. These three women became the founding board members of MomsBloom. Flourishing Families is the first program to be offered by MomsBloom.
- 2006: Sara Binkley-Tow, Angie Walters and Alice Christensen begin discussions and take steps to develop MomsBloom
- 2007: Compelled by the grassroots mission of MomsBloom, In lieu of Christmas gifts, a local family raises $800 to help launch MomsBloom
- 2007: Families began being served after the first volunteer training was conducted in Sara’s home. The first group was recruited through family and friends that heard about the creation of MomsBloom.
- 2008: MomsBloom awarded generous start-up grants from Dyer-Ives, Steelcase and Frey Foundations
- 2008: The first 35 Kent County families supported
- 2009: After the loss of her daughter Cameron, Lesley Jeruzal, one of the first volunteers for the Flourishing Families program, felt compelled to have donations in Cameron’s name be made out to MomsBloom. This was the beginning of the Cameron’s Garden program.
- 2010: First staff members hired to address the rising need for services.
- 2014: MomsBloom’s current capacity is to serve 250 families a year, but the demand is skyrocketing. Plans are in place to grow volunteer numbers and create additional programs to provide services to a larger and more diverse number of families.
- 2015: The community-based doula pilot launches in Grand Rapids and Lansing is the first city outside of Kent County planning to adopt the Flourishing Families program.