WHO SHE IS: Lisa Truong, Executive Director & Founder, Help a Mother Out (HAMO)
LOCATION: San Francisco Bay Area
SUCCESS STORY: Building an innovative non-profit organization that empowers low-income women and children (56 million diapers donated since 2009)
WORK SCHEDULE: 35-40 hours/week. Flex time!
KIDS: Two boys, 9 & 6
SANITY VICE: Dance classes and chocolate
RECENT SMART READ: I’m currently reading The Soul of Money, by Lynne Twist
BEST TIME-MANAGEMENT TIP: Try to get the important stuff done in the morning
GO-TO TECH: Google Drive
BETTER WAY TO SAY WORK-LIFE BALANCE? Life/Work Integration
1. Tell us about HAMO, its mission, and how you got here.
Help a Mother Out works to improve baby and family well being by increasing access to diapers for families in need. We distribute diapers to families in need through a network of social service partners, including parent support groups and voluntary home visiting programs. We also advocate for the inclusion of diapers in the social safety net. I started HAMO in 2009 with a friend of mine, Rachel Fudge. We were both new moms at the time and learned heartbreaking stories of moms going without diapers for their babies. In a way, you could say it was all Oprah’s fault. The story is on our website.
2. What are some of the statistics that people should know about when it comes to how challenging it can be for families to afford diapers?
First, public assistance for diapers is virtually non-existent. They are not available through federal programs like SNAP (food stamps) or Women Infant Children (WIC). One in three families struggle to provide enough diapers for their babies.
3. At last year’s HAMO fundraiser I particularly took note when you talked about a how lack of access to diapers is actually a health issue — I’d never thought about it like that before.
Yes. We see it as both a public and maternal mental health issue. When a baby has enough diapers, they are less susceptible to conditions including diaper rash, staphylococci, or urinary tract infections. As well, a lack of access to diapers significantly increases the likelihood of maternal depression, which doesn’t bode well for women, children or our greater community. More info on “Why Diapers” here.
4. You’re a working mom running your own non-profit. Are you doing anything interesting when it comes to “working smart” that others could do as well?
I’ve recently become a big believer in self-care. For me that includes working to prioritize exercise and getting enough sleep. In terms of work hacks, I try to accomplish the day’s most crucial “to dos” in the morning.
5. What is the media missing about working moms, in your opinion?
Many of the families we work to serve include working mothers who struggle to provide the basics for their children. I’d like to see the media focus on policy solutions that would have a positive impact on their lives, including increasing the minimum wage and paid sick leave.
6. What advice do you live by as a working mom?
There’s a quote floating around the Internet that I love: “The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.” (Attributed to Steve Furtick.)