Drive around Frisco and you will see signs of progress and prosperity on just about every corner. A new subdivision of half-million-dollar homes for sale here … a strip shopping center or trendy eatery under construction there … Given the economic optimism that abounds, it is easy to assume most area residents probably live quite comfortably in this burgeoning burg. It may surprise some to learn that a growing number of people are struggling to keep roofs over their heads and purchase such necessities as food and clothing. That is why a group of local mothers has made it their mission to provide down-and-out area women and their families with the items they need to survive and thrive.
Frisco Moms began in 2007 as a social group on Facebook for women in search of parenting wisdom, playdate opportunities and other activities to do with youngsters in tow, as well as kid-free, Moms’ Night Out-type events. The mothers also stepped up with donations when personal tragedies like house fires struck Frisco families. In 2014, the page was renamed “Frisco Moms Squad,” and boasted more than 4,500 members. The group also created the Sister Mom Project, where donor moms with hand-me-down clothing and household goods to give were paired with qualified recipient moms in need.
Another name change occurred in 2015, when the group formally established itself as Frisco Moms Care (FMC), a nonprofit organization dedicated to enhancing the community through service projects. “The Sister Mom Project made us realize that, one day, we could do way more than be a social group,” explains FMC board member Shannon Waters-Bland, who oversees the organization’s fundraising efforts. “The amount of need in Frisco is staggering. We have a huge homeless population in Frisco; they are just not living under bridges. They are sleeping on people’s couches; they are sleeping in their cars, moving from house to house.” Others are on the verge of becoming homeless as local housing costs skyrocket. “You cannot live in Frisco on $32,000 (per year) if you are a family of four.”
Also through the Sister Mom Project, women who reside in Frisco or Little Elm (or who have children attending schools in those cities’ districts) can apply for financial needs-based assistance and may qualify based on their home address and income level, among other criteria. Relying entirely on donations, FMC currently assists nearly a dozen women and their families by providing gently-used and new clothing, food and other supplies. As the area continues to grow, it plans to expand its services to reach even more women, who often learn about the organization through word of mouth. “We are motivated because we know that kind of growth is going to bring that much (more) need,” says Ms. Waters-Bland.
Personal stories of FMC’s recipients are heartbreaking, to say the least. One woman lives with her two kids, a premature infant and an older, autistic daughter, in a small shed at a Frisco construction site. Another is tending to four small children alone after her husband abandoned the family. “She cannot find him and she cannot go to work because she cannot afford daycare,” Ms. Waters-Bland explains. Other recipients (or their spouses and children) have health issues and costly medical bills to pay. “All these people know if they have an emergency need, say they cannot afford groceries one week, they can call us,” explains FMC board member Ariana Trimmer, who is also the vice president of the service and social committees.
Last fall, FMC members delivered donated fixings for 50 Thanksgiving dinners to the doorsteps of local women and their families. In December, they dropped off a dozen holiday meals, gifts and even a few Christmas trees. Ms. Waters-Bland says, “Think about it. If you cannot afford to buy diapers for your kid, a Christmas tree is not a need, but for us, it is. We think it is important for these kids to have some semblance of normalcy.”
Among those whose family received a Christmas dinner and presents last year is a Little Elm stay-at-home mother. She turned to FMC a year ago for help when her husband, a disabled military veteran, lost his job and she was expecting the couple’s fourth child. “We had nothing,” she recalls. “We had used up the last of our savings and were trying to figure out how to support a pregnancy and continue on with our lives with our other children.” Without the organization’s assistance, she says, “I am pretty sure we would have lost everything.”
Once, when she requested a new pair of shoes for her young son, she says, “They went out that same night and got shoes for him.” Members also purchased reusable diapers for her baby and made sure her teen daughter received the jar of facial cleanser that topped her Christmas wish list. “These ladies have been amazing. When you see the harsh realities of life, it is gratifying to see people who are willing to give so much of themselves.”
FMC board member Karen Reston says, “It is amazing for us to kind of get the warm fuzzies knowing they appreciate it so much.” Helping needy moms, she adds, “keeps me grounded, it keeps me humble and appreciative of the just the little things.”
On a recent Sunday morning, a handful of members were at a Frisco storage facility sorting through boxes of donated clothes. Using meticulously maintained spreadsheets, they hand-selected properly-sized, season-specific pieces for parents and children of each family they assist. Ms. Trimmer, whose teenage daughter was also there lending a hand, said FMC mothers often bring their children along on their philanthropic missions. “I want my kids to look back and say, ‘My mom did this. My mom helped people.’ I want them to carry that on,” she explains.
FMC assists others in North Texas by volunteering at events including the Texas Big Star Half Marathon and 5K. The organization also sponsors an annual coat drive and collects items and makes care packages that are distributed to the homeless in Dallas. This summer, the group will host a bottled water drive benefiting area first responders. Each Valentine’s Day, they make and donate gift baskets to local widows and mothers whose children have died. For the past five years, on Mother’s Day, they have presented spa-themed gifts to moms of critically ill children who are receiving treatment at
area hospitals. “We just like to make the moms feel good if we can,” Ms. Trimmer said.
“We love this. That is why we do it,” Ms. Waters-Bland explained of members’ dedication to the organization. “Our mission and vision for Frisco Moms Care does not just cover needy families. It covers needs in the whole community. We are changing this city quietly. No one knows who we are, but we are changing people’s lives, and not on a large-scale, impersonal way. We know every one of these recipients. We have been to every one of their homes, and we get to see the change.”
To learn more about FMC, volunteer or donate your time, check out fmcares.org.