M ountain West Mothers’ Milk Bank (MWMMB) started as an idea. About 17 years ago, a group of well informed and passionate professionals met to discuss the possibility of having a milk bank in Utah. It took quite a few years of discussion, debate, and recruiting people to make it a reality.
Fast forward to 2020 when we began distributing our first precious bottles of milk to Utah hospitals. The excitement was palpable and all of us who had been involved for years couldn’t believe it was a reality. And those who were newer were still learning about the benefits of human milk for premature and frail babies. As we all know, the year 2020 quickly changed everything anyone had ever known and we found ourselves needing to pivot quickly to protect our long awaited milk bank. We also knew that Pasteurized Donor Human Milk (PDHM) may become even more critical with the unknowns of a pandemic.
Our Board of Directors was so dedicated and thoughtful in decisions that were made during that time. No of anticipated starting a non-profit during a time of uncertainty and fear. We didn’t let that stop us. We followed best practices for staff using hospital guidelines and our accrediting organization Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA) worked tirelessly to keep us updated on guidelines and safety for PDHM.
Three years later, MWMMB continues to provide PDHM to our local hospitals and we have expanded to Southern Utah and Idaho. We are proud of what we accomplished during a challenging time. And we look forward to continuing to grow. As volunteers, what drives us to give our time and expertise for this cause?
I was on the original founding board. As a Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) and the manager for the lactation team at a hospital, human milk and its uses are a part of my job. I research the benefits and help write policies for the use of PDHM. I also work with families and know how important it is for them to have options when things don’t go as planned. As the past board chair, I have dedicated many hours to our milk bank and am proud of what we have created. I feel good knowing that my contributions of time and energy help individuals, families, and the whole community. It’s worth every second and all the work.
Other board members serve for similar reasons.
Galina joined the board during our planning stages. She was asked by our former Chair and Medical Director, Dr. King to help provide the perspective from a practitioner. Galina says,
“I joined the board because I have dedicated my professional life to advocating for infants and children who have been born prematurely, and the lifelong challenges that many of them face. For 20 years I worked in the NBICU and saw the truly remarkable change in outcomes for infants who received human milk verses formulas. These infants had less complications and were discharged home sooner. We were able to send home healthier babies and decrease the cost associated in caring for them. I am honored to have been a part of the incredible group who brought Utah families a regional milk bank.”
In addition to providing a perspective from a practitioner, Galina has worked tirelessly on many committees. She was instrumental in the success of our first gala and grant writing campaigns.
Nancy also joined the board during our foundational planning years. She volunteered at one of our galas after her daughter saw the request for help on Facebook. Shortly after when I asked her if she was interested in becoming a board member she didn’t hesitate at all and quickly jumped at the chance to be a part of our organization. She states:
“Isn’t it incredible that we can save so many more of our vulnerable, tiny babies? Technology is critical but isn’t it also incredible that science has proven that human milk is key in this success? I am awed daily by the generosity of milk donors, the dedication of the Milk Bank staff to get our milk processed, pasteurized and distributed so widely in our geographic area and the commitment and knowledge of the Board and other volunteers to assure its success. I am humbled to be on the Board and have the opportunity to contribute even a small amount of my knowledge and effort to this extraordinary work.”
Nancy has been an invaluable part of our board. She contributes so much, is always one to volunteer for tasks that need to be done and brings expertise in areas that differ from others on the board.
Anthony is a newer member of the board and was asked to join as part of our legal counsel. He said:
“Being a part of the milk bank means a lot to me because the milk bank is there for mothers in their most pressing time of need. Life has the tendency to deal us tough hands from time to time, and the opportunity to help people in that time of need is one of the things that make life fulfilling. Working with the dedicated board members help me grow as a person and want to do more good in the world. It is a privilege to be a part of such a great organization with such a worthy mission.”
We are so glad to have Anthony on the board. He brings knowledge and perspective to our organization that are not from a medical view. Having that perspective helps us to see the whole picture and keep our Mission and Vision at the forefront in our decision making.
We recently were referred to Jen as a possible board member. After interviewing her, we knew immediately that she would be perfect for our board. She sits as our Treasurer and we can’t thank her enough for all her time, insight, and dedication. Jen says:
“For me, serving on the Board of the MWMMB enables me to fulfill a personal mission to serve the community while using my business and financial expertise in retirement. It is a privilege to work with an organization that demonstrates an unwavering commitment to infant health and nutrition. I see myself as a link that bridges passion to financial security and integrity. I seek to give the organization and its sponsors peace of mind that its resources are used wisely to ensure the MWMMB is able to serve the infant nutrition community for years to come.”
There are 15 members or our board of directors. Some are community members who have expertise because they are moms; they know what it takes to feed a baby and care for their family so they bring that passion to help our organization. Several of us, like myself, are lactation professionals and are committed to appropriate nutrition for babies and passionate about caring for sick and vulnerable babies. We have nurses, nurse practitioners, pediatricians, and neonatologists; professionals who have cared for these babies and know how important human milk is for their nutrition, growth, and development. And we have other professionals working in industries such as Real Estate who help guide our decisions for space and facilities.
I am so appreciative of everyone on our current board and all those who gave so much as Founding Board Members to make this dream a reality.