Today we’d like to introduce you to Natalie Boyle.
Natalie, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I was living in LA and working at a large movie production company when I found out that I was pregnant with not one but two girls! My husband and I made the decision that we needed to be closer to family and move to a place that would allow me to stop working and be a full time stay-at-home mom while they were little, so we moved to Dallas. I left a career that I loved to be able to focus fully on these beautiful girls who I loved even more.
Unfortunately, life threw me some pretty staggering curve balls. I spent the first few years of my children’s lives fighting for my own. From the time they were 6 weeks old until around 2 and a half I had a long string of health problems including 5 major surgeries, the removal of three organs, and a cancer diagnosis. I was physically unable to be the stay-at-home mom that I had planned and wanted to be.
But I was lucky. My parents live close, my mom practically moved in with me during my many hospital stays, and my in-laws came in town to help for weeks surrounding my biggest surgery. But both of my parents still work and my husband’s family lives in Boston, so even with all that help, we still had to hire nannies to fill in the gaps. There were large periods of time during those years that I could not be alone with my kids because I was too weak to even lift them.
As I went through all of this, I started wondering what happens to moms with serious health problems who don’t have the resources that I was blessed to have. I mean, you can’t exactly ask a friend to watch your twin toddlers all day every day!
Then, my friend Annie was diagnosed with colon cancer. Her mom didn’t live here but she moved in to help Annie through radiation and surgery. During the surgery they found out the cancer was more extensive than the original diagnosis and Annie was looking at six months or more of chemo. Her mom had already stayed as long as she could and they didn’t have the ability to hire full time help for her 2 and 4 year old.
When I asked her what she was going to do she said, “I guess I will have a friend watch them on chemo days and just do it myself the rest of the time.”
Sometimes I think of my life with a Before and an After. The me from Before my struggles would have heard about Annie and prayed for her and tried to help by bringing a meal or watching her kids for a day or two.
But After… After me felt compelled to do something more.
Earlier that week, one of the nannies who had helped when I was sick had let me know that she was looking for a job. I had a friend that needed help and a person to help her. I just had to put the two together and figure out how to pay for it.
So Mommies In Need was born. I started with a crowdfunding platform and the goal to raise money $1,200 to pay for two weeks of childcare. But every mom I talked to kept saying the same thing, “That could be me! I don’t know what I would do if I was in that situation,” and they gave generously. Those two weeks turned into six months of help for Annie, and then people kept giving! So we started taking on more families and hiring more nannies.
What started as a promise to a friend in her hospital room has grown into a state and federally recognized tax exempt 501(c) 3 non-profit organization that has provided nannies for 32 families in Dallas and Colin Counties and provided a total of over 12,000 hours of childcare in our first three and a half years of operation.
Has it been a smooth road?
Ha! No. Our road has been far from smooth. It has been more like a roller-coaster. Up, down, and all over the place but thrilling and wonderful at the same time!
I never planned to work in non-profit, I was in the entertainment industry. I studied Culture and Politics at Georgetown University in DC before moving to New York to become an actress. I eventually wound up in LA acting and then in film production. 10 years ago I would never have believed that I would be running an organization that I started AND being a mom to twin six-year-olds!
This whole thing started with me wanting to help a friend and crowdfunding to do so. Then my financial analyst husband told me in no uncertain terms that we could not have $20,000 sitting in a bank account with me just saying I was using it to help people! So I started the process of learning how to incorporate, get 501(c) 3 status, and find a Board of Directors.
Mommies In Need is the only organization of its kind in the country, which is amazing! But it also means we haven’t been able to lean on looking at other successful models with a similar business practice, I am not even going to go into how difficult it was to get insurance! Over and over again, I was told that having nannies as company employees and sending them into the homes of client families for free was not a thing. Well, it is a thing now, and don’t worry I did finally find insurance!
Besides the general obstacles that new non-profits face, such as building awareness, working out program details, etc., I have had to continue to deal with ongoing health problems (I had another surgery this year) and learn how to deal with heart-breaking loss both in my personal life and with a few MIN Mommies.
Life these past six years has not been easy, but Mommies In Need has been a true blessing in not only for the families we have helped, but also for me. Before starting this organization, I suffered from severe anxiety and depression surrounding my health problems. But walking with all of these women through very difficult and life-threatening situations has given me a whole new perspective. When things are hard for me in my journey, being able to focus on helping others has been the source of much of my strength. Well, that and a super-supportive husband and a pair of hilariously-awesome twin girls!
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Mommies In Need story. Tell us more about the business.
Mommies In Need provides in-home childcare to parents going through a health crisis. We not only fund nannies for sick moms, but also provide them with someone who is vetted, background checked, CPR certified, and experienced and trained in dealing with situations when a parent is suddenly ill. All of our services are completely free of charge to the families and we can provide up to 40 hours a week of childcare for a period of up to six months.
We also build community around these moms by encouraging the nannies to schedule play dates with each other and by hosting all-family get-togethers with our past and present families and our nannies. These events are a chance for the kids to see the nanny that cared for them, and for our moms further down the recovery path to mentor those mommies who are currently in the worst of it. We also have social workers and play therapists that help our nannies and families to navigate these challenging situations when needed.
We are the only organization in the country (and as far as I know the world) that provides free in-home nanny service from experienced nannies who are employees of the company. What sets us apart is that we are committed (as much as possible) to sending the same nanny to the same family for the entire duration of their contract with us. That consistency is vital both for the children and the parents.
I think I am most proud of the feedback that we get from our families about our services. I know first-hand how difficult it is to live through a medical crisis while having small kids at home. When I hear a mom talk about the peace of mind and comfort she feels knowing her children are being well cared-for and loved while she gets the rest she desperately needs, I know that I am doing the work for which I was put on this earth.
How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
It is my hope that in the next 5-10 years Mommies In Need will be ready to expand into other cities and across the country. Already we get requests for help from places as far away as Chicago and California, so I know there is a demand for this type of care!
- A donation of $15 provides one hour of childcare for a sick mom
- A donation of $120 provides one day of childcare for a sick mom
- A donation of $600 provides one week of childcare for a sick mom
- Address: 8150 N Central Expy
Dallas, Tx 75206
- Website: www.mommiesinneed.org
- Phone: 469-708-6667
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: www.instagram.com/mommiesinneedorg
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/mommiesinneed
- Twitter: www.twitter.com/mommiesinneed
Kathy Walden Photography