SARASOTA, Fla. - Madeline Brogan and Terry Stottlemyer are both amazing women with very different talents, but one common desire: to help mothers like themselves who are in need.
For that purpose, 24 years ago an organization called Mothers Helping Mothers was born.
The organization is located at 5933 N. Washington Boulevard, just south of University Parkway, and is open 2 days a week.
"The folks are lined up down the road to get in as early as 7 to come in for gently used clothing, car seats, books, cribs, toys, games…whatever we have been given, we give back free of charge," says Stottlemyer.
Brogan, one of the founders, was pregnant with her second child at time and a cartoonist. Then one day she read in the paper about a couple of mothers in desperate need. "I felt I had so many blessings, and knew I could be one of those mothers and wanted to be in a position to continue to help them.”
She called her friends and got them to donate used items to help those mothers. Then she discovered more mothers in need, and more, and Mothers Helping Mothers was born.
No one in the organization gets paid. Stottlemyer arrived here by a different route. "I moved here in 1986 with my husband. We were raising our 5 children on Siesta Key, and I had a business there, the Sea Shanty, a retail business. I was introduced to Mothers Helping Mothers when we were doing a fundraiser."
And when she sold her business to spend more time with her 5 children, she volunteered, and soon became Executive Director.
Her children are grown now and in successful careers. She says seeing her efforts to help others has had a profound effect on them. "They are very conscious of the importance of giving back. To me that's worth everything that I put in."
And what a difference they've made. They help 6,700 families and 9,000 children a year. But they say they're the real winners. "You get so much by giving back than receiving."
Mothers Helping Mothers is open every Tuesday and Friday. On the days when they're not open, they're busy gathering up donations, stacking shelves and dealing with book keeping. But their amazing dedication keeps them going.