It all started with a girls night out and a desire to teach our children to value others, appreciate what they have and give back to the community. This led us to brainstorm how we can do this on an ongoing basis, not only on Christmas and holidays! Moms on a Mission started in 2018 as a group of local women who donated laundry baskets full of household essentials to families moving out of homeless shelters into permanent housing. Our goal in this was two-fold. First, we wanted to serve the community in a tangible way. Second, we wanted to provide opportunities for young children to be involved in recognizing and meeting needs in their community. Most families leaving a shelter have nothing to bring with them, so the Welcome Home Baskets we provide are a much-needed assistance as families transition and settle into independent living. In 2019, we went from a few ladies working out of our garage to an incorporated, 501(c)(3) non-profit organization with our own business space. We developed strategic partnerships with a few shelters in the Hampton Roads area and set up monthly schedules of basket deliveries so we could meet the needs of their residents. We started to hold regular community events that allowed families, and especially young children, the opportunity to serve the community by providing the essentials used to fill our baskets and also assembling the baskets themselves. We were really gaining traction in the community and developing a good rapport with our partner shelters when the COVID-19 pandemic hit in full force. With all unnecess¬ary contact locked down and many government agencies closed or running at very limited capacity, we quickly discovered that the homeless shelter residents we had become accustomed to serving every month were by and large “stuck” in lockdown at their shelters. Unable to move into their own housing, their needs were changing rapidly. Household essentials that were a vital need to those starting to live on their own were immediately replaced with a need for cleaning/sanitizing supplies, food, and child essentials like portable cribs. In a quick pivot, we shifted from providing monthly Welcome Home Baskets to rallying our community of donors to provide for these emergency needs. In the months of lockdown and quarantine that followed, we were able to provide cleaning and sanitation supplies, masks, weekly meals for shelter residents, baby supplies for births while resident mothers were in shelter, and baskets of family essentials and activities for the families “stuck” in shelters during lockdown. In the fall of 2020 residents were able to start moving out of our partner shelters and we resumed providing Welcome Home Baskets and developed our Welcome Home Backpack program that provides each child transitioning out of homelessness a backpack of essentials specifically designed for kids. These backpacks not only meet a tangible, physical need but also provide each child with something they can call their very own, maybe for the first time in their life. 2021 was a year of transition as we continue to move forward in supporting the homeless population through lingering COVID-19 pandemic conditions. We were able to expand our services to additional shelters in the area and get out more Welcome Home Baskets and Welcome Home Backpacks to those in need than any previous year. But amidst that growth we recognized that changes in the economy and housing market were creating additional needs for those experiencing homelessness. In recognition of the needs we developed a new product called Community Cares Pack. These small totes include basic personal care items and allow those coming into a shelter a fresh start to personal care. They also help supplement resources provided by emergency shelters for residents who experience longer than expected stays as the demand for affordable housing greatly surpassed the available supply and access to government support resources was longer to obtain. At the end of 2021, in an effort to continually expand our support to those experiencing homelessness, Moms on a Mission had the opportunity to create a partnership with Virginia Beach City Public Schools. This partnership gave us access to a whole different demographic of the homeless population, students and their families. For many students, homelessness isn’t just a hardship that affects where they live. It also affects their ability to attend school and meet appropriate educational milestones. Basic necessities like laundry soap and personal care items often prohibit students from attending school. So, we set out on a mission to minimize these effects of homelessness by providing students experiencing homelessness the resources they needed to regularly attend school and be successful in the classroom. 2022 has been a year of tremendous growth for Moms on a Mission as we gained the support of many local and national organizations, empowering us to expand the scope and scale of the support we provide to the homeless community. This expansion provides new products, greater distribution, and more opportunities for children to get involved in understanding and meeting the needs of some of the most vulnerable residents in our community. Going forward, we are excited to grow our engagement with the community as we come together to serve and support those experiencing housing insecurity in Hampton Roads!