When I reflect back on my six years with the Indiana Mothers’ Milk Bank, what sticks out the most are the “mission moments,” those times when the generosity of our donors and supports makes what we do here worthwhile. And while the administration of our growing milk bank doesn’t leave me much time to spend on direct service any longer, I always hear about mission moments from my staff.

The most memorable of these acts of love bring smiles or tears, or smiles through the tears:

After his wife became a bereavement donor following the death of their newborn son, a donor’s husband made an unplanned stop at the milk bank while the family was traveling through Indiana to visit friends. The entire family came in to view our giving tree, a display that memorializes babies whose families have donated in their honor. The children found the leaf with their brother’s name, and we took pictures of all of the family members in front of the leaf.  Everyone in the office cried that day, and the family was able to understand our deep appreciation for the lifesaving nourishment they provided to other fragile infants and their families through the milk bank.

We value every donation that we receive, but it was a gift that resulted from another unexpected visit to our building that sticks with me. The parent of a newborn baby that received lifesaving milk through our services stopped at our office after seeing the sign on our door. Right on the spot, he cut a check to benefit our Milk Money & More fund. This parent said he committed to a donation to the milk bank in the neonatal intensive care unit of their local hospital after his fragile newborn received our donor milk before mom was able to produce her own. What a great feeling for us to know that our service is valued in the community.

A mom in our office building uses our break room to pump for her baby. Without fail, she donates what she pumps one day each week. Her consistent commitment helps us meet the critical shortage of donor milk and save more newborns in need.

This story is a little more personal, but shows that anyone can play an important role in delivering the gift of lifesaving breast milk. The day that our pasteurizer broke down, we had milk that needed to be pasteurized, and we had to get it to another milk bank to make that happen. My son dropped what he was doing, drove the milk up to another milk bank where the director stayed late to pasteurize it for us.

I often think of these moments and others when things get stressful or may not be going right. They are what I’ll remember when I’m retired and taking stock of what I’ve done during my lifetime. And, I’m proud to share this unshakeable bond with such amazing mothers, their families and all of our supporters.