From feeding the hungry to keeping pets out of shelters to helping new moms, these women have turned their good deeds into full-time jobs. Read on to see how you can too!
1. Feeding Those in Need
Kathleen Purdy, 68 Danbury, CT, tells us: “As a single mom of three, I ran a home daycare for many years so I could be available for my kids. About 20 years ago, I discovered that my grandmother was running out of food every few days because she was feeding her neighbors who were disabled or too sick to get to the food pantries. I decided to help her and purchase two bags of food once a month and deliver them. Then a woman from a nonprofit organization heard about what I was doing and told me she had a lot of moms living in poverty who needed help too. After a year, I also started to get calls from agencies and social workers who were interested in getting help for their clients. I knew in my heart what I had to do, so I closed my daycare business and launched Hillside Food Outreach.
“In the beginning, we rented an industrial garage as a warehouse, but as we grew, we were given a warehouse for free if we agreed to expand our reach in Connecticut. To get the word out for donations and volunteers, I spoke at churches and organizations like the rotary club. Bernie Williams, a former New York Yankees baseball player, even became a donor and volunteer after he heard me speak!
“Today we serve 900 households a month in three counties, plus those in emergency situations. We have youth-group volunteers who pack bags of nonperishable foods and then volunteers ‘shop’ in our warehouse and deliver the food to the people in need.
“I love running this organization because I get to help people in need and carry on what my grandmother started. I earn about $63,000 a year, which pays the bills, goes back into the organization, and allows me to do fun things like take my grandchildren to Cape Cod every summer.”
2. Saving Pets
Angela Marcus, 34, New Hope, PA, tells us: “I used to work as operations director for the Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, where we took in thousands of animals, many of whom were eventually euthanized. I wanted to find a way to keep animals out of shelters and help people re-home their pets, so I launched Get Your Pet, an online community that connects pet owners with families looking to adopt.
“I did some research, then created a business plan and worked with a friend to build the website. We walk people through the adoption process, handle the legal transfer of ownership and provide support to both parties. Since many shelters are overwhelmed or not accepting new pets, we provide peace of mind that the animals will find a loving home. We also help people avoid scams.
“The site is free for guardians, but once the adoption is complete, the new owner pays a fee of $99 for a dog and $49 for a cat. This covers our cost for the adoption and legal documentation. New owners also receive a voucher for a free veterinarian visit, 30 days of pet insurance and a $40 credit to Rover, a site that helps owners find pet-sitting and dog-walking services. Since we started, we have re-homed more than 3,800 animals!
“To market the business, I use Google AdWords, Facebook ads, social media, and email marketing. I also make it a point to build relationships with animal shelters.
“I earn about $96,000 a year doing this, and I love that with my work, I can save animals and help people. The work is flexible, so I can also spend time with my child.”
3. Handing Out Baby Supplies
Jamie Lackey, 40, Snellville, GA, tells us: “A few years ago, I wasn’t happy in my career and felt like I’d gone as far as I could go. I realized, however, that there were moms who were less fortunate, and instead of thinking about their careers, they were worried about how many jobs they had to work to make ends meet. When I looked into it, I learned there was no organization in Georgia that collected and distributed baby supplies to women who needed them — things that aren’t covered by WIC or food stamps, like diapers and bottles. So in 2014, I launched Helping Mamas to pro- vide supplies and gear to mothers. Two years later, running the organization became my full-time job.
“To get started, I registered as a 501(c)(3), a nonprofit organization that’s exempt from federal taxes. I also created a website and learned all I could about social media. I did a lot of networking and reached out to bloggers and social entrepreneurs to tell them our story.
“Today we partner with other organizations like nonprofits, hospitals, schools, and foster-care agencies to help about 15,000 people each year throughout the state of Georgia. We receive donations of new and gently used items and purchase some new items like breast pumps and car seats.
“I love running Helping Mamas because we directly help moms care for their children. As the CEO, I work full-time and make a $40,000 salary, which pays the bills and goes back into the organization.”
This article originally appeared in our print magazine.
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