KELLY, PLEASE SHARE A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF.

So first things first, I’m a mom of twins- George and Lily. They are 8 years old. I’m also co-founder of an amazing organization called the Alliance of Moms. Which I’m here to talk about a little bit today, is our Essential Mother Campaign. I’m also the founder of a children’s clothing line called Little Minis, and I am a heart ambassador for the CHLA, which I’ll also talk a little bit about. I’m here to share some tidbits and facts and fun things and hope that you will join me in my essential mother campaign!

WHAT IS AOM?

To give you a little background on who the Alliance of Moms are, we are a community of moms who provide time and resources to support pregnant and parenting youth in Los Angeles, who are in the foster care system. That means if someone is pregnant or parenting a child and are in the foster care system, we provide access to services that will help support and hopefully build a positive future for themselves and for their children.

CO-FOUNDER OF AOM, FOUNDER/CEO OF LITTLE MINIS, MOTHER OF TWO- YOUR LIFE'S WORK REVOLVES AROUND FAMILY, BEING A MOTHER AND THE IMPORTANCE OF COMMUNITY.

WHAT HAS BEEN THE BIGGEST 'IT TAKES A VILLAGE' MOMENT FOR YOU?

For me, community is so important and community goes into everything that I do. Whether that’s my family, my work life, or my volunteer life.

I do have an a-ha moment, and in general those moments where I felt really overwhelmed as a mom, a new mom of twins- and having access to all of my wonderful friends. Access to these resources: doula services, mommy and me classes and all of these things to support me as a new, first time mom of twins while not having my own mother around who had passed before my babies were born.

This community was really important for me, and any time I had questions, or I felt nervous or I was scared, or confused, or I wanted to bounce ideas off of people…that village for me, was my friends. And I don’t know that I’d have survived those early stages of motherhood without them.

WE READ THAT YOU'RE ALSO A HEART AMBASSADOR FOR THE CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL OF LOS ANGELES! WHAT BROUGHT YOU TO BECOME A PART OF THEIR ORGANIZATION?

A little bit of a background is that I have a daughter who we call a heart warrior. The reason why my name is heart mom is that’s what they call me now at CHLA They introduced me as a heart mom and I instantly felt a part of something safe. I knew that others walked before me and that others were going to walk behind me, and that was really important to me.

So, my daughter has a heart condition, she has what’s called a third-degree heart block. So she actually has a pace-maker- that we call her supercharger.

I just really loved the community at the children’s hospital and they give back to the people who are about to walk in their footsteps. So it was really important for me to get involved. What that means is that I deliver packages and things on certain days of the week where it’s a goodie bag that just says here’s a granola bar, or a pair of socks or a book or whatever that looks like. Just that I’m here for you and I’m thinking of you. And that’s a part of the heart ambassador program. And it really meant a lot to me when I was there, and I had friendly faces, whether that was coffee in hand or something that just said hello and that I wasn’t alone. So that’s really important as I go through different stages in my daughter’s own personal health story. I enjoy being a part of that community and supporting others very much.

WHILE WE ARE DOING THIS INTERVIEW, YOU ARE BASED ON KAUA'I. WHAT INSPIRED THE MOVE?

I am so lucky and so blessed that we started off this journey during the pandemic thinking that we’d be here for 3-6 months. I think we’re going to be here almost a year when we go home. This is sort of our happy place, we’ve been coming here for the last 10 years, we have really good friends here. This island is just an incredible place to be and talk about the community here...I’m just in love and they’ve welcomed our family in. We made the decision because we’re from L.A and at the time it was really not a great place, we were worried about our daughter, with health concerns. And my husband had just lost one of his clients. And I felt for our mental health and our family unit, I felt that we needed to make a little bit of a change, and we were really blessed to be able to do that. So we found an incredible place here and we’ve hunkered down. The kids are still in zoom school. We’re just feeding off nature and feeding off the energy that this place is giving us. We’re in heaven, so I don’t know how I’m gonna go home.

WHAT LIFESTYLE CHANGES HAVE BEEN THE MOST PROFOUND?

There’re a lot of things that have changed for me health-wise since being here. I’ve had more access to being outside in this incredible environment, so I have been excreting a lot. I’m really fortunate to have someone here in Kaua’i that I look up to and admire and I get to work out with three times a week. So I think my health, my wellness, my working-out, my mental health is better than ever, because I get to go outside.

But the lifestyle change I think for me the most is, working out having access to this outside world and how beautiful it is and I want to be out in nature all the time. I will also say, I have really leaned in on the farms here, and having access to the fresh food and fruit every week has also been a game-changer. So I’m also eating really well, I’m exercising- so I think that’s been our biggest change. I hope I continue on this health journey when I get home too.

WHAT IS YOUR MOST BELOVED EXPERIENCE WITH WATER?

I have a confession to make, I’m actually terrified of the ocean. Although, I mean like in the ocean. Although since we’ve been here, we’ve gone out on a few boat rides and trips out in the water and I’ve had- I have to say one of the most incredible experiences, when we were out in the water and we saw whales and dolphins. I’m sure people see them often here, but for me when I first saw the whale come out of the water it was so magical. And then watching all the dolphins flow around, making their sounds and speaking to us- I feel like that’s a memory I’ll keep forever.

READING THROUGH AOM'S PROGRAM CRITERIA- MANY WORKSHOPS ENFORCE THE IDEA OF BUILDING A RESILIENT FAMILY. WHAT IS YOUR IDEA/ WHAT DO YOU THINK ARE THE KEY INGREDIENTS OF BUILDING A RESILIENT FAMILY?

I think this is a really important question that wraps around the idea of community for me, so I would say the first step in building resilience is leaning in and asking for support through your support group. Whether that’s your family or friends, your community. So for me personally, I have the heart ambassador family and I have my mom friends, my mom groups. I have my fashion groups that I lean in on for different things as well. And I think to stay up on the basic self-care practices too. Making sure that I’m checking in with myself and I’m balanced so that I can always come back to that grounded space for myself when I do hit heads with whatever struggle that may come up. For me, I think that laughing a lot builds resilience. I try to have as much fun in every situation as possible. And I know that’s hard to do when things get really rough, I can say that too with my daughter and having a child who has health issues- I think for me personally, I made a story around it- I got her a cape, and I made her a superhero. So I do things that bring a lot of lightness to things that may be, well, heavy. So all of those things combined.

ONE WORKSHOP (YOUR MOST RECENT ONE) THAT STOOD OUT WAS 'A DAY OF WELLNESS'. IT'S SO IMPORTANT THAT THE TOPIC OF MENTAL HEALTH IS BECOMING MORE PRIORITIZED AND ACKNOWLEDGED. WHAT BROUGHT YOU AND THE OTHER FOUNDERS TO INCLUDE THIS PROGRAM IN YOUR SERVICES?

I think it is really important as a mother to understand tools that you can kind of check in with yourself to get back to that centered, grounded place. You know, you have to focus on yourself first. If you don’t work, then everyone else doesn’t work either, so whether that’s health, mental wellness or the health of your body, whatever that is...It’s really important for all mothers to take time to hone in on that, and to be patient with ourselves. Give yourself that time.

WHAT DOES 'A DAY OF WELLNESS' LOOK LIKE IN YOUR PERSONAL LIFE, AT HOME?

So a personal day of wellness for me looks a little different every day. Sometimes with the chaos of the household, that means I go for a walk, or I walk into a different room, or I listen to music, or I take a bath. I do think that it’s really important that we do spend time on ourselves and have that space for ourselves to go over the questions, or the struggles, or the things that we need support with. I give myself time to sort through all of that. I always sort of ground myself and bring it back. And I know what direction I need to go in if I give myself a little time and space from everybody else.

NOT ONLY DOES AOM PROVIDE MENTORSHIP PROGRAMS, WORKSHOPS AND COMMUNITY SUPPORT, BUT YOU ALSO ADVOCATE FOR BETTER HOUSING, HEALTHCARE AND EDUCATIONAL SERVICES. WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST MEMORABLE MILESTONE ACHIEVED FROM ADVOCATING FOR BETTER QUALITY OF LIFE IN FOSTER HOMES ACROSS L.A?

I think the biggest achievement by far, was this year during the pandemic which is just incredible. All of the AOM funds have been given to the AOM social workers and advocates who have literally taken the girls & young women

and given them homes. Keeping them from living on the street with their babies. So I think, by far the greatest achievement is to save these young moms and their babies from becoming homeless, while providing food and assistance and essentials for their whole family. Plus health care! That by far is our biggest achievement, and I hope that’s what we can continue doing through all of our community awareness and campaigns.

Thank You !

I just want to say thank you to all who joined in on this conversation and for being a part of the ON&ON community. I feel very grateful and lucky to have spent some time with you and if you want to know any more information about AOM, you can visit Allianceofmoms.org. If you want to support and buy the t-shirt, you can buy it at shopallianceofmoms.org. If you want to get to know more about me or any aspects of the communities that I’m a part of, please reach out to me on DM @_heartmom_