The Little Lake County Gives Back program is a community outreach effort to connect not-for-profit organizations with our readers.
Keeping Families Covered
Keeping Families Covered (formerly Twice As Nice Mother & Child) is a non-profit 501(c)(3) charitable organization that strives to ensure that mothers and children have their most basic needs met. They solicit and collect donations of gently used items from the general public (women’s casual clothing, maternity wear, children’s clothing – newborn to 5T, children’s shoes, infant care essentials) and provide them to families FREE OF CHARGE. They also provide diapers, wipes, and infant formula.
Keeping Families Covered solicits, collects, and maintains an inventory of gently used items (NEW items are also accepted). They also partner with social service agencies and non-profit organizations in Illinois that work with mothers and children to assist them with any needs. They also have a referral service and help distribute items to families.
I caught up with the agency’s founder, Ann Marie Mathis, shortly before she gave birth to her fifth child to find out more about her charity and family:
What was the catalyst to start your charity?
The idea for Keeping Families Covered came about once I became a mother. After welcoming my first child, I realized rather quickly what was required to care for my infant daughter — diapers, wipes, clothing, blankets, nursing supplies, a crib, car seat, stroller, pack ‘n play, diaper bag. The list of things that were needed to care for that tiny person on a daily basis seemed endless. I knew how blessed I was to have all of the essentials and even extras of some things on hand, but I also began to think about how difficult it would be to care for an infant without all of those necessities. I knew that being a new mother could be overwhelming enough and simply could not imagine the level of additional stress that would be felt by a mother that had to struggle to provide her child with the most basic of needs.
With the crash of the economy and the influx of stories in the media about the growing needs of parents who were struggling to raise newborns and young children, I saw that very struggle become a reality for many families. At that moment, I decided that I wanted to try to do what I could to make a difference. Following the birth of my second child, I began the process of researching how to start a non-profit organization in the hope of creating one that could provide assistance to mothers and children in need. I figured that focusing on gently used items would make sense since infants and young children tend to outgrow things quite rapidly—and many parents either pass those items on to family, friends, and neighbors or look for ways to donate them elsewhere. That’s when I decided that the name “Twice As Nice” would be fitting for gently used items that would be given “new life” in another family’s home. (in 2020 the name was changed to Keeping Families Covered)
Armed with an M.S. and B.S. in organizational leadership, and over 20 years of experience in the corporate world, I focused on finding the right combination of my love of management and passion for helping others. In August 2010, my dream became a reality, and Twice As Nice Mother & Child was established as an official non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. Over the past four years, Twice As Nice Mother & Child has experienced tremendous growth that has allowed us to provide much-needed assistance to families in Illinois. Through our relationships with local social service agencies and non-profit organizations, we have been able to extend our reach to provide even more families with the help that they need to care for their children safely—and with dignity. Regardless of the type of assistance that is needed, Keeping Families Covered can help restore stability and hope during challenging times.
What are your goals for Keeping Families Covered in the future?
Continuing to build awareness about the organization in the community so that we can extend our reach to provide even more families with assistance;
Creating partnerships with even more social service agencies and non-profit organizations to help them fill the needs of the families that they serve;
Ultimately becoming a “household name” in the charity sector.
What business tool could you not live without?
The business tool that I could not live without is my iPhone. My entire LIFE is in that phone and I would be totally lost without it!
If I was coming to your house for dinner, what would we have?
If you were coming to my house for dinner, we would probably have steak, garlic mashed potatoes, roasted vegetables, and a nice bottle of red wine. And all of that fabulous food would be served with a side of background music from my kids, which would most likely be the theme song from the Frozen movie either sung (or screamed) no fewer than 25 times in varying voices, volumes, and tempos—with hand gestures!
If you could learn to do anything what would it be?
If I could learn to do anything, it would be to have more patience and not be so hard on myself. As a mother of four young children (ages 6, 4, 3, and 19 months) with a fifth one due any day now, a business owner, and a wife, I have a very busy life and household. I tend to have high expectations of myself and a low level of patience, which does not always prove to be a good combination. Life gets hectic and it is easy to lose sight of what is most important. As women, I believe that we push ourselves to be perfect in every way, and our self-worth hinges on that. The truth is that we will not find our self-worth, dignity, or purpose in professional accomplishments, personal achievements, domestic duties, parental perfection, social status, or the number of friends that we have on Facebook. We pick ourselves apart about the most trivial things and fail to pat ourselves on the back for our daily victories. None of us can have it all—and no matter what we tell ourselves or what society tries to tell us, none of us can do it all. We have to make choices as well as concessions every single day. We have to pick and choose the things that we do in the time that we have to do them, knowing that we just won’t get to everything. There will be things that will be left undone and that’s okay—no matter what anyone else thinks. There is only so much time in the day and as long as you make the most of it, consider that a success. The challenge for all of us is to find a balance between the Hollywood definition of perfection and REAL LIFE. I am learning that we need to stop focusing on perfection and start focusing on being the best version of ourselves. We should spend more time thinking about the things we do right and less time thinking about what we do wrong. We need to find comfort in knowing that none of us can do it all, but we can make sure that we are doing enough. We may not be able to have it all, but we can have what truly matters in life if we are patient. We may not be perfect, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t be great.
What’s in your purse?
What’s in my purse??? ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING! Let’s put it this way—if you had the chance to pick someone to be stranded on an island with, you would want to pick me! I have all of the standards and basics that all women seem to have in their purses plus a whole lot more! I am always the person that people come to when they need dental floss, bobby pins, hair ties, safety pins, a nail file (or five), clear nail polish, an extra toothbrush, a mini lint roller, hair spray, batteries, notepaper, a straw, a Tide pen, a variety of make-up and brushes, tissue, Tylenol, Band-Aids, Tums or snacks for their kids. I like to be prepared for anything even though it’s pretty ridiculous to carry that much stuff around on a daily basis (and probably one of the reasons that I have back pain). My purse also doubles as a diaper bag for my little guy sometimes, which means I usually have a diaper and wipes in there too—and hand sanitizer, of course!