Tuesday, December 16, 2008
DALLAS -- What began with a mother logging onto Craigslist and searching to help fellow mothers in need has turned into an operation that has helped 18 families in Dallas.
Beth Jones, director of her organization "Bambinos," was on welfare herself four years ago after having her first baby. She said her husband had no health insurance and the medical bills were expensive.
Trying to make ends meet and provide for her baby, she sought out services for help. However, she said the closest organization was in Salem.
"I got the whole (picture) of the welfare system," Jones said. "Everybody said there's nowhere for help in Dallas."
She said there was no way mothers could hop on the CARTS transportation system, pick up a crib and come back into town.
Jones and her family were able to get back on their feet, and last May she decided to launch Bambinos to provide diapers, clothing, cribs, furniture and even food to local families in need.
Today, her original one-woman operation has 20 volunteers and is supported by the Valley Baptist Church in Perrydale.
"The train is moving quickly," Bambinos partner Kim Totten said.
Totten has also recovered from tough financial times with her family and joined Jones to reach out to young mothers.
The group collects items for children of all ages and supplies are stored in a 10-foot by 20-foot storage unit. Some women ask for help once and some return. Jones makes a point to follow up with all and establish friendships and support.
"Just because you are low income doesn't mean you don't have pride," Jones said. "They don't want to ask for handouts."
On Dec. 4, Bambinos held a silent auction and dessert for 80 people that raised $2,000. But outside donors are not the only ones who want to give. Many of the 18 families helped by the organization donate items to others when they are able, Totten said.
"The less people have the more generous they are," Jones said. "We really connect people in Dallas with something to give to those who need it."
Eventually, Jones would like to have a building with a couple of rooms to operate out of. She said the office is in the bedroom of her apartment and isn't convenient for her husband, Ray, who works a graveyard shift.
The facility would include a space for the mothers to talk, take classes and hold support groups, a room full of toys for kids, and her own office with a phone line, Jones said.
The cause is becoming so great that the group is looking for volunteers. The two women acknowledged that many people in the community want to give back to others, but don't know how and this is a great option.
"It's one thing to put money in the Salvation (Army) jar, but it's another to know that you are donating to your neighbor," Jones said.
For more information: Beth Jones, 503-508-6043.