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Lake County Women of Distinction

LAKE COUNTRY JOURNAL GURNEE – Ann Marie Mathis knows how fortunate she has been throughout her life. So when she saw how many Lake County families were struggling to provide their children with basic necessities, she knew she had to do something to help them. Mathis, a Wadsworth resident, left a lucrative job in corporate America about five years ago to run the organization she founded, Twice As Nice Mother & Child. The Gurnee-based, all-volunteer nonprofit provides needy families with gently used children’s clothing and shoes, baby gear, maternity clothing, children’s books, infant formula, diapers and wipes. Mathis, 45, began realizing how many families were struggling after she became a mother. She said she would often donate her children’s used items but was unsure of where they were going or if they were ending up in the right hands. So she created Twice As Nice Mother & Child in 2010 and left her full-time job in 2012 to commit herself to the organization. “That made me think about what I could do to help these moms and kids, but do it free of charge,” said Mathis, a mother of six with another due in February. “Even double-income families were faced with this. I’m lucky enough to have a great support system and it bothered me that others were having these issues. This is my job, but I don’t get a salary. It’s not about money, it’s about helping others. And that’s more rewarding than any corporate job I’ve ever held. You can’t put a price tag on being able to help people every day.” Twice As Nice serves between 150 and 200 families every month, many of whom are below the federal poverty line. It does not operate on a drop-in basis but partners with many social service agencies around the area to connect with needy families. The agencies submit requests to Mathis on behalf of their clients. She and her volunteers fill the requests for the case workers, who deliver the items to the clients. Twice As Nice does offer direct services to families, but they must undergo an internal intake process. Twice As Nice receives a steady supply of gently used clothing and shoe donations from partnerships with resale shops, moms groups and school groups, but it needs cash donations to purchase diapers. Mathis said diapers have become the largest part of the business and Twice As Nice is a certified diaper bank. “Our goal is to keep kids clean, dry and healthy. We donate more than 100,000 diapers a year, and WIC and food stamps don’t cover diapers,” she said. “Diaper need affects one in three families and most people don’t realize that. We purchase 90 percent of the diapers and formula we give out. Our budget is limited, so we’re trying to do more fundraising and writing grants.” Gary Kwiecinski has been volunteering at Twice As Nice since 2014. He said Mathis is very dedicated to helping others in need. “Her organization provides assistance to many families and she’s committed to growing Twice As Nice to reach even more families in crisis. Ann Marie does this all and also has time to raise a family. She is an inspiration to others,” he said. Jordan Del Re wanted to volunteer at Twice As Nice be-cause she felt it was important to give back to her community and thought it was a perfect opportunity to make a difference. “I feel very lucky to have found such an amazing charity to volunteer for in my community and have been blessed to call Ann Marie a wonderful friend and neighbor,” Del Re said. “It’s very humbling to see Ann Marie’s dedication for her charity. Her commitment to helping others is like nothing I’ve ever seen. Ann Marie goes above and beyond to help others.” The number of clients Twice As Nice serves continues to grow every year. Mathis is hoping that word will continue to spread in the area about the organization, so more people can donate and more needy families can be served. “When I started this organization seven years ago, I never expected it to grow as rapidly as it has. I think that more and more people are becoming aware of what we do and the positive impact we’ve had in the community. I’m really proud of that,” she said. “The clients are incredibly grateful and it makes me feel amazing. I’ve never been in that situation and it’s heartbreaking. I can’t imagine what it would be like, but I know if I was in that situation, I’d hope there would be an organization like this to help me. I’m happy to help any family that is in need of the items we provide.”


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