Kelowna-based Facebook page grows into registered charity with chapters all across Canada

An Okanagan-based Facebook swap group for moms grows into registered charity with chapters all across Canada

It was started to help break the cycle of poverty among mothers in the Okanagan and now it has taken the country by storm.

Mamas for Mamas is a Kelowna-based organization that supports moms emotionally and financially.

The organization evolved from humble beginnings as a swap group that Shannon Christensen, a Kelowna mother of two, started on Facebook in 2014.

“I at the time was selling my stroller, selling my bassinet and selling all the things I no longer needed for my baby so I could then buy the next things he needed,” Christensen said.

“And I kind of thought, why are we not just giving these things to each other, why are we just not trading them.”

The Facebook group’s following grew fast.

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“[We] went from 300 members to 3,000 members to 13,000 members very quickly,” Christensen said.

Mamas for Mamas was granted registered charity status in January. It was the first time that a registered Canadian charity was born on social media.

“I have never been more proud of my team for sticking with me over the last three years without a paycheque, still working full-time jobs to make this dream, make this happen,” Christensen said. “Because this is a movement, not a moment.”

In May, the organization moved from a 200-square-foot space at the Boys and Girls Club to a 4,800-square-foot site.

The newly-renovated space includes a free store complete with newly- and gently-used items such as clothes, toys and other necessities including strollers, high chairs, car seats, diapers and formula.

“They (moms) don’t have to feel stigmatized or like they are losing their dignity when they come here for help,” Christensen said. “We are all mamas helping other mamas.”

Mamas for Mamas also offers counseling services and a number of mental health programs.

It now has 30 chapters across the country.

Click here if you would like more information or would like to make a donation to the organization.

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