First Midwest Bank "We Have Ideas" for Your Small Business Feature - March 22, 2021
Meet Ann Marie Mathis, the selfless and inspiring business owner of Keeping Families Covered, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing diapers and other basic needs to underprivileged families. As a mother of seven, Ann Marie founded Keeping Families Covered because she saw tremendous need among many families with young children in her community. Here is a look into her insight as a compassionate business owner whose maternal instincts shine inside and outside of the workplace:
Q: What inspired you to start your own business?
A: As a mother of seven, I know how challenging it can be to care for young children. Parenting can be even more difficult when you lack the necessities. Clothing and diapers are basic needs for children, as essential to their health and well-being as food, shelter, and a parent’s love. Yet many families struggle to afford those items and limited resources exist to help them. I believe that all parents should be able to provide their children with the basics they need to thrive and that is what inspired me to start my nonprofit organization, Keeping Families Covered.
Q: What’s one thing you wish you would have known when you launched your business?
A: I wish that I would have known that no state or Federal programs exist to assist families with diaper need. Diaper need affects 1 in 3 families. Safety net programs like food stamps and WIC do not cover diapers. Diapers are an ongoing and high priority need for many families, but especially for those who are experiencing financial hardship. Those families must often choose between buying diapers, paying bills or getting groceries. That is a choice that no family should have to make. With a cost between $70 and $80 per child per month, diapers are an expense that many families struggle to afford. Our diaper bank helps to fill the gap by providing free diapers to over 1,200 families every month so that they can keep their children clean, dry and healthy.
Q: Why do you love running a business?
A: I love running a business because I have the opportunity to help people every single day and make a positive impact in my community. The impact was particularly evident in 2020. In a year like no other, more families than ever counted on us and we were there for them. We gave away over 1.1 million diapers to 18,623 children and 13,307 families. The global pandemic has disrupted so many different aspects of our lives, but we continue to overcome the challenges it has created for us and those we serve. We remain committed to eliminating the barriers to access basic human needs in Lake County and keeping families covered. Being able to offer a helping hand to families in the community never feels like work. I also love running a business because it provides me with the flexibility that I need to balance work with responsibilities at home for my young family. My kids range in age from 3 to 12, so my schedule is such that I can take them to and from school each day, be there for their activities, and have time to manage other aspects of my household.