Welcome to our new social impact series, called “Five Questions.” On the first day of every month, we will share five questions with a community organization serving children and youth in Jackson County. In doing so, we hope to inspire you, enlighten you, and connect you with community organizations should you ever need assistance. By sharing this with you, we hope that together we can be inspired to take action to improve our communities!
I first met Tia and Monique, the sisters responsible for Birth Brite, at Michigan Tribe’s Business Shower event. I had heard of their organization before that, and immediately found myself moved by their mission. My life has been personally touched by foster care, both in my former first-grade classroom, and as I watched a childhood friend navigate the route to becoming a foster parent, quickly gathering a crib, car seat, and other items when a baby was placed in her care. After meeting Tia and Monique in person, I knew I wanted to shine the spotlight on their amazing organization. We are starting by sharing this feature so that you can learn about the important work of Birth Brite, and we will soon announce details for a community donation drive to support them!
Five questions with Birth Brite
1. Tell us about Birth Brite and the mission of your organization.
The mission of Birthbrite is to deliver hope and joy to children in foster care. We are a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization located in Jackson, Michigan. We are also known as Birthbrite and Birth Brite Foster Closet.
We are a free resource that helps to meet the immediate needs of children who have been placed into foster care. We accomplish this by giving children access to items entirely for free through our foster closet, so that they can have items that they want and need, including comfort items.
2. What made you decide to start up Birth Brite?
Tia and I (Monique) were both licensed foster parents. Although we both had very different experiences as foster parents, we both felt there was one major thing lacking; support. There are lots of community resources, but there aren’t many programs that are geared toward foster families or specifically for youth in foster care. Birthbrite is the product of our combined fostering experiences. It’s something that we needed as foster parents and more importantly something that the children we were fostering could have utilized and benefited from.
3. What items do you accept (New items? Gently used items? Type of items?) Do you accept monetary donations?
We gladly accept new and like-new items.
Some examples of items we accept are clothing, shoes, bedding, toys, books, games, laundry soap, sensory/fidget toys (kids love these!), bath towels and so much more. Honestly, it’s easier for us to say “If your child loves a particular item, then the children we serve would love to have it too.” We do have some items that must be new, such as underwear, and personal hygiene products.
We absolutely accept monetary donations! Monetary donations allow us to keep our doors open and to be able to purchase items that aren’t commonly donated.
4. What items do you go through the quickest or are you most in need of?
Believe it or not, we go through insane amounts of size 5 and 6 diapers. Baby wipes and baby hygiene products (sensitive skin, fragrance-free baby wash/lotion) are a close second. We have a really difficult time keeping boys’ and girls’ sizes 16/18 in stock. A men’s small or women’s small is a close equivalent for those sizes. Although we do often substitute with those sizes, the fit is slightly different and sometimes the adult sizes are “too mature” fashion/style-wise for teens.
5. What is the process for a foster child in need of items?
It’s as simple as the foster parent just letting us know what items the child needs. The best way for them to do this is by filling out our request form, which is located on our website and Facebook page. We do our best to fulfill the request by utilizing donations received from the community, and the items we do have available are typically ready for pickup or delivery within a few days or earlier in cases of emergency.
We are also available by phone, text, email, and Facebook or items can be acquired directly at our foster closet (by appointment) and also during events we host.
Bonus question: What is your favorite kid-friendly place to visit in Jackson County?
Kiwanis Park, because there’s something fun for everyone to do. There’s playground equipment for kids of all ages and stuff for kids who love to climb. There’s also a circular walking path that our toddlers love to ride their balance bikes on. We also like that it’s pretty easy to keep an eye on where everyone is at whether you sit at the picnic tables by the walking path or under the covered pavilion.
Stay tuned for further information about our community donation drive for Birth Brite!