We cannot say thank you loud enough to all the people who support organization. Whether it is your time, skills or financial support, we couldn't do the work without you!
It's encouraging to meet someone new who expresses interest in the mission of The Seventh Mom Project, Inc. Their desire to roll their sleeves up and help is icing on the cake!
That said, I wanted to share some current opportunities to volunteer with The Seventh Mom Project, Inc.
Do you like planning and helping throw events? We're seeking two teams, one in Hillsborough and one in Pinellas to work under our Events Chair to help plan, coordinate, and staff fundraising and community outreach events. Tasks could be a simple as soliciting raffle donations, or as involved as promoting events in daily social media post. Events range from Mom's Night Out fundraisers and outreach at community fairs to the annual Raincoat Run 5K event. If this sounds like the way you want to #holdtheumbrella, let us know!
Are you a digital artist? We love pictures and inspiration content to share with our followers. If you like to design in your free time, we would love to share your creations!
Do you have a passion for encouraging new mothers? Have you faced the storm and are you ready to help another mom get through it? Perhaps SISTER Mom is the mentor-ship program for you. We'll be starting another training cycle for our SISTER Mom Mentors soon. Be sure we've got your info to stay in the loop.
Do you like a good laugh? Help raise awareness about maternal mental health and have a good laugh as one of our Flamingo Fosters. Flamingo Flocking is underway. Help the flock get to their assigned roost and relocate them when necessary. This could actually be a group effort as it takes many to spread the word.
Do you serve in a professional role? Over the next year, we hope to move forward with building a professional advisory board, a round table forum for maternal health, infant health, and mental health care providers to discuss ways to improve connections to care and bridge the gaps between mothers in distress and quality effective treatment. If you or your colleagues are interested in playing a part of this community activity, we'd love to hear what you have to say!
For more information, use the contact form below!
Following the storm, the river rose. Eventually we learned the river had crested at over 16 feet. Our mobile home had taken on quite a bit of water. As you can imagine mostly wood furniture, no electricity, standing water for several days, the damage was severe. River water had come so high that you couldn’t even get in our neighborhood without a boat. When we were finally able to access our home, we found nearly everything left behind destroyed. Mold crept in, taking over the floor, the walls, and the ceiling.
So here we are: destroyed home, closed schools, and my husband had to return to work. Like most families we simply wanted to return to our “normal”. Many local families were working to get back to their “normal”. Yard clean up, laundry and dishes that had piled up during their time without power, keeping children entertained while schools continued to act as shelters for east coast evacuees. Fortunately, the overall destruction was not nearly the scale of once predicted in the Tampa Bay area.
We were awestruck by the outpouring of support from people all over Tampa Bay supporting not only our neighborhood but many others that had been flooded, offering clean clothes, places to stay, hot meals, it was truly amazing to see the way families in Tampa Bay came together for one another.
We had to do massive cleanup of the items we lost, but we pressed on. I lost some of my SISTER Mom training materials too. My signed copy of "I'm Listening". I did find it fitting that my copy of "Life Will Never Be the Same" was near the top of these destroyed materials.
I also have to take time to mention how amazing all of this volunteers and supporters of the Seventh Mom Project are. Volunteers helped with the cleanup, the meal train, and keeping my spirits up. As you know we do not a have a brick and mortar location, and we also lost materials to the storm. During this time I was without a computer, however continued to operate as best as possible from my phone and of course my copilot really stepped up and took on even more of the work she had already been shouldering since the birth of Haddie.
My family moved in to our temporary home. This happened to be a hotel in Tampa. Some amazing moms put together a meal train for us. That was such a life saver! Can you imagine cooking for a family of seven in a hotel room with a crock pot, microwave, and a tiny mini-fridge for weeks? It's not pleasant, but between the meal train and culinary creativity, we made it work.
After several long weeks living in the hotel, we closed on our new home. The love continued to pour as friends helped with the move, replaced lost furniture, and filled our new home with laughter.
Thank you to all the supporters who help us weather storms daily!
Hey there Tampa Bay,
It is the first week of June, and if you've been in Florida for more than a year, you know that means it is the official start of Hurricane Season. Let's be real, if you've been here the last few weeks and pay attention to the weather channel, you know that this year the season got a jump start thanks to Alberto.
This time last year we put out a blog with some tips and tricks for dealing with hurricane season with children.
Then Murphy and her law decided we needed to have a little more experience weathering storms. Yup you guessed it, Hurricane Irma happened and if you have been following The Seventh Mom Project, Inc. for a while, you may recall that my personal home was flooded by the rising Alafia River following Irma.
I finally went back and reread that original post and reflected on what worked and what I'll be doing differently this year to survive motherhood through Hurricane Season. Recently, I added some tips here.
Here is my story about weathering the storm.
A little back story, our family of seven (and two dogs) had been living in a mobile home, saving to purchase or build a house. On September 1st we went under contract for a new house. Since our schedules are crazy, I knew I needed to get a move on with all the packing and sorting of our belongings. About the time I was collecting moving boxes, we began to receive warnings about a potential category 3 or 4 hurricane.
Due to my husband's employment, when hurricanes occur there is always the possibility of him having to go to work and me having to hold things down by myself. For this reason, and the fact that we live in a mobile home, evacuation has always been the likely hurricane plan. Trouble is, how do you evacuate with five children and two large dogs. I began to research and found listings of my local shelters. There are special needs and pet friendly shelters in Tampa Bay, however they fill quickly. You also will find that your pets are often housed separate from the people, especially when using our schools as shelters.
My other concern is I have a cerebral spinal condition that is affected by changes to the barometric pressure. This makes keeping us safe more complicated during a storm. So the decision came that I would need to take the children and dogs and go stay with family on the other side of the state. However, those spaghetti models were crazy and we didn't know what the storm's track was going to do. Was it going towards the West Coast of Florida or was coming to hit the East Coast? I have plenty of family on the other side of the state that would have sheltered us, but if the storm was heading straight to them, it didn’t make sense to head that way. To really throw a wrench in the works, our youngest was only four months old at the time. She had just recently graduated out of feeding therapy and required very attentive care. We decided to head North.
Now if you are evacuating please, please, please do not immediately think of the farthest possible place to go. I know it seems very instinctual to get as far away from danger as possible and for that reason many families left the state of Florida traveling many States away. However, this massive evacuation caused quite a mess on the roads going in-and-out of Florida, as well as Alabama, Georgia, North and South Carolina. There were times where it took travelers hours to go a few miles. There were gas shortages, not just in Florida, finding gas became difficult even in Georgia and South Carolina. Not only were there shortages of gasoline, there were no hotel rooms.
Of course, our family, like many others, decided the best decision for us would be to evacuate out of state. However, we lived in a mobile home along water. Had we lived in the home we were under contract at the time, we would have likely sheltered in place. Long distant travel when not warranted is not typically advised.
We made this decision based on our family’s needs and packed accordingly for a road trip. We truly anticipated our house being gone when we returned, so instead of boarding my house up, I went to a nearby storage facility and secured a climate controlled storage unit. While many people were out going store to store desperately seeking water, canned foods, and plywood, I was packing up our irreplaceable objects: photos, mementos, books, and really anything I possibly could get into a box and get to that storage unit. For approximately 40 hours before we left, our children were watching TV, while I shoved everything I could into available boxes, and my husband made multiple trips to and from the storage unit. Unfortunately, even with this forethought, we simply could not get everything out.
I followed my favorite, local meteorologist and when the warnings came out of what time you needed to be sheltered or gone, we knew our time was growing short. We finally reached the point of "hey, we don't have any more time for any more trips to the storage unit. We have to leave". We loaded up both of our minivan's, all the kids, both dogs, and the road trip packs we decided we would take with us on this epic journey and said, "good bye, house thanks for the memories".
Aside from packing as many of our belongings as we could into storage, I also packed a large cooler of all the food we could eat on the go from our fridge. I boiled all the eggs, and packed all the cold cuts, canned tuna, and bread. Anything we could eat on the road or at a rest area was packed up. This proved to be quite helpful because our destination was North Carolina but it took us 2 days to travel what is normally a 13 to 14-hour drive. Having just put a deposit on a house and renting out the storage units in addition to our normal expenses, we were on limited funds. Stopping for fast food, if there was even anything open, wasn’t feasible for us, add in the fact that wait times for many drive-through were well over an hour, having packed food was well worth the time and ice.
Something else I'm glad we had the forethought to do was fill up both vehicles with gas because you had to get off the interstates and travel quite a way to find fuel and then there were waits in gas lines.
Just outside of Kings Bay, Georgia we pulled off at a rest stop. I had reached the point of physical and mental exhaustion and simply could not safely continue to drive. While parked at the rest area my husband and I desperately tried to book a hotel. We called multiple services, multiple hotel chains; no one had rooms. There was quite a bit of wind and rain where we were but at that point we had to decide. Our safest option was to stay put in that rest area, lock the doors, hunker down, get comfy as possible and nap in our vans. I know your probably wondering, “How in the world do you get comfortable?” The reality is when the adrenaline finally crashed and we'd been awake so long, it wasn’t that difficult to fall asleep in the parked minivan with kids, blankets, pillows strewn all over and a big dog curled up on top of my feet. We managed to get about 6 hours of rest (minus the 2 or 3 times I had to wake to feed and change the baby).
We crossed into South Carolina about the time the Sun came up. I must tell you, the welcome center across that state line was like and oasis in the desert. Knowing they were about to have this huge onslaught of evacuees coming into the state, they were prepared. The restrooms and were spotless, pallets of bottled water were handed out to travelers, there were phone charging stations, and outlets to use televisions with weather updates. I must hand it to South Carolina's Department of Transportation, because they were on point.
Now focusing back to some of those tips and tricks I shared last year. We utilized the Ziploc bag and tote method for packing our belongings. This proved to be handy even once we got to our destination being able to pull out a gallon Ziploc with a complete change of clothes for a child was so much better than digging through a suitcase or duffel bag. I've taken to routinely keeping a bag in the back of my van with a Ziploc for each person, including myself because you never know when someone's going to get dirty, after all kids are kids, right?
Using the large tote with the lid also proved handy when we needed a diaper changing station for the littlest, a table to lay out the Atlas and check our directions (because when the weather is rough, you cannot count on GPS to navigate you), and a height appropriate place to put the dogs’ food and water bowls in the car.
We followed the weather alerts while we were gone and received messages from friends, family, and neighbors. We were relieved to see the Facebook live videos from neighbors showing that our neighborhood had survived the storm rather well. We were surprised we were returning to a house that was still standing. Of course, the drive home took even longer than the drive out. Traffic, extremely slow-moving traffic, was even worse, because now the National Guard, reserve power companies, and other rescue organizations were traveling to Florida. We saw rows and rows of line trucks and semis carrying generators, chain saws, and all sorts of supplies that people would need for the recovery and clean up.
Once again, I was grateful for my cooler and at this point the non-perishable foods that I had brought. There weren't many places to stop and if you did by chance find and open fast food joint or a drive-thru, the wait times were upwards of an hour or two.
Once we got back to Florida we discovered the river near our home had begun to rise and rise and rise and going straight home was not going to be an option for us so we went to stay with family roughly on the other side of the state. We believed we were close to returning to our normal and relieved to get some real rest.
This was not what happened, but you can read more about the aftermath soon.
This mom wears rainboots,
If you look at your sale ads, you're going to see a lot of places are running specials on hurricane supplies. We are in the last day of a sales tax holiday, meaning we can buy things like duct tape, batteries, and flashlights without paying sales tax. However, be smart don't purchase items that you in no way will ever need, If finances are tight, be especially smart about how you purchase and stock up on your supplies. I admit, I typically begin restocking my hurricane supplies in February.
When you make your weekly or bi-weekly grocery trip, grab an extra jar of peanut butter, jug of water, or a pack of batteries. Purchasing 1 or 2 items a week throughout the year, will help you to be prepared without having to endure the panic that comes the week before a storm hits. This panic is why no stores have water, canned soup, bread or ice available right before a storm comes. I am actually quite proud to say that I did not need to go shopping for hurricane supplies last season. I did go purchase moving boxes and packing tape, and was dumbfounded by the empty aisles and people scrambling, even fighting over canned meats that they otherwise would never purchase. They were in a panic and not ideally prepared. Haven't started, START TODAY!
You can read the other tips we issued last year here. They were very helpful during my own evacuation. After weathering Hurricane Irma, I want to remind you of a few other important to do's.
I'm glad to say that throughout the evacuation and the aftermath, my mental health was in great shape. I was tired but had been certain to refill my medications prior to evacuating, so I was not faced with suddenly going cold turkey. I continued to check in with my support team and care providers. I really cannot stress this enough: if there is any prescription or over the counter medication someone in your home takes on a daily basis as well as rescue meds, such as inhalers or anxiety medication, please be sure to get your advance refills during your storm prep. If you haven't seen your provider in a while and you need to have an office visit to get more refills, now is the time to make that appointment. Tell your provider you want to be prepared in the event of an emergency situation and ask them to put a refill on file. If a named storm is projected to hit, please go fill that prescription don't try to tough it out. Make sure you do this for everyone in your household. Medication for inhalers and nebulizers are crucial. I'm sure anyone with asthma or other respiratory issues will agree when you have no power and the humidity is thick, breathing can become difficult. If you have children that require inhalers please keep them with you. Do not evacuate without, and if you shelter in place be sure you have a supply or means of providing the medication should you lose power. This is not so much about during the storm itself, but in the time to follow the storm when, you may be residing in a shelter or with family or in home without electric or water for days or even weeks.
This includes your pets! Again, get ready now. Make an appointment, go to your vet, keep your pets are up-to-date on which ever vaccines and registrations are required for your county. Put these records with all the other important papers in that waterproof container. Be sure you have enough pet medications as well. Heart worms can be very serious and with the mosquitoes they are a threat.
Whether you're evacuating, or sheltering in place add a good size supply of Chux pads also known as pittle mats, puppy pads or potty papers. You're likely not going to be able to walk Fido in the middle of a storm. If your dog is like mine they don't want to go out when it's raining. You don't want that mess in your house, have some backup potty mats. Chux pads are right up there with duct tape as one of my absolute must have survival items. Because of their multiple uses if you have pets definitely have extra. Like your children, if your pets have favorite toys, blankets, or comfort items make sure that you have those with your pets. Animals are aware when things are different, they feel changes in weather, and they do become stressed. These items for your pets can be very helpful because if the kids are already stir crazy, and you've been cooped up inside with no power, you don't want to add an anxious pet to that mess.
Here are important to know websites:
Tampa Bay Hurricane Guide for 2018
NOAA 2018 Predictions
NOAA Tracking Charts (it's fun to play meteorologist!)
Additionally Hillsborough County Proclaimed May 13 through May 19, 2018 as Hillsborough County Hurricane Preparedness Week in Hillsborough County. Even though it is now Hurricane Season, we should be making sure we are prepared! (also, Perinatal Health Week Proclamation was read shortly after the Hurricane Preparedness Week!)
Here's hoping that everybody has a safe and enjoyable summer. Storm season is long and it is my hope that we have a mild one without any major hurricanes this year. However, if we do, I hope that we are able to help you feel prepared. If you have any tips or tricks that have helped you please feel free to share them in the comments. Learning together and leaning on each other is how we weather the storm.
Want to learn more about how my storm adventure was weathered? Follow along, that story is coming soon.
Each walk is different, but we walk together, and that makes all the