It’s Meet a Mom Monday! Today we’re introducing Alex Goodfellow, Executive Director of Share Our Spare and Chicago mom! I loved learning about Alex’s passion for the work that Share Our Spare is doing, in particular as it relates to equal access. In Alex’s words, “Every mom loves their child, wants the best for them and wants to give them the world. Unfortunately, some of us don’t have that opportunity readily available and it’s up to our community to support those moms and those children that need a bit extra”.
Keep reading to learn about ways that you can get involved with Share Our Spare (right now!), fun things that Alex likes to do around the city with her family, and a (laugh out loud) surprising fun fact!
Hi Alex! Thanks for speaking with us today. Where are you from originally, and what brought you to Chicago?
I am originally from St. Louis. We moved here almost four years ago for my husband’s job. I moved here right about the time all of the people I knew started moving back to St. Louis from their post-college years here!
How many kids do you have, and what are their ages?
2 boys: Neil (3) and Clark (4.5) and 1 girl: Grace (3 months)
What would you say has been the hardest transition, and why: 0-1 kids, 1-2 kids, or 2-3 kids?
0-1 is by far the hardest. It changes your entire life — how you spend your time, sleeping, priorities — everything is re-evaluated and shifted to this new normal. So far, 2-3 has been the easiest because both my husband and I are working from home while the older two stayed in daycare, so there has been more balance.
Which neighborhood do you call home? Do you have any favorite local businesses that you like to frequent?
Ravenswood/Lincoln Sq. We are perfectly set between Andersonville and the Lincoln Square strip, so we get the benefit of both neighborhoods. I love Planet Access and Ravensgoods for gifts, Jerry’s and Cesca’s are our favorite kid-friendly restaurants — Alamo shoes is also a favorite and I want to check out the new kids store The Sandbox in Andersonville (I’ve only done window shopping there so far).
What are your favorite things to do in the city with your kids?
Going to the beach is our number 1, Winnemac Park, MSI, the Children’s Museum at Navy Pier and we did a lot of exploring of the Lake County forest preserves during COVID when all the above have been closed!
Can you tell us a little about your career journey, and how it brought you to Share Our Spare? Did you always know that you’d like to go into nonprofit work?
I have spent most of my career in the nonprofit space — it always felt like the right balance between interesting, challenging work, but also somewhere I could make an impact and eventually somewhere I could spend my days and feel good about sending my kids to daycare. I originally worked with offenders and then victims of domestic violence, but really felt drawn to working with kids. I wanted to try and connect with people before they were given bad choices.
Because of this, I am really passionate about education and equality for the youngest members of our community. Particularly equal access (to basic items, good schools, healthcare) because it sets the stage for everything to come. When I first found Share Our Spare, I had such a connection as a mom with young kids because there is such a learning curve and then add poverty to the mix and the opportunity for success becomes pretty overwhelming. Juggling motherhood and a career with resources, family support and access to quality healthcare is already a challenge, so if you take all of those things away its pretty hard to feel like a good mom — something we all want to be. That is something I have really taken to heart in all of the years I have spent working with kids: every mom loves their child, wants the best for them and wants to give them the world, unfortunately, some of us don’t have that opportunity readily available and its up to our community to support those moms and those children that need a bit extra.
Tell us more about Share Our Spare! What is your favorite part about working for this organization?
The people. We work with the most incredible agencies who really have gone above and beyond for the families they serve this year. We also have the most incredible donors and volunteers that have given time, energy and money to make our reach greater and our efforts more successful. I also love how easy it is to connect with our mission — supporting children in a tangible way is something that everyone can understand and believe in. Even when teaching my kids about my work, they get it and they love helping out — they have become professional kitters and sorters.
What are some of the ways that our readers can get involved with Share Our Spare? Are there currently opportunities to volunteer in-person?
We have so many great ways to get involved remotely and in-person. Volunteer and donor support is so important to our success.
- We are moving to a new warehouse in May, so lots of chances to support and help organize us for that transition. And we always have remote kitting opportunities available or you can host a drive or Stuff The Truck event.
- We have a Virtual Music Trivia event on June 4th — its super fun and engaging with great music played throughout. Hopefully we are in a place that you can have a small team at your house to play, but you can put together a team that is in multiple locations for those of us that are not ready to gather together.
- We also just launched our Community Council, which is a great way to get more involved with Share Our Spare on a regular basis and can be done with friends or as a chance to meet some new people in your neighborhood.
- We can have kids as young as six volunteer in the warehouse, so its a great bonding opportunity for families.
What is something everyone would be surprised to know about you?
I once shaved off my eyebrows when I accidentally locked myself in the bathroom when I was 4 (be careful out there parents!) — I think I will forever be eyebrow self-conscious.
Rapid Fire Round!
Favorite place to travel (without kids): Central and South America
Favorite place to travel (with kids): Ontario — my husband’s family is there
Undergrad college/major: Psychology and English
Coffee or Tea: Tea
Last book you read: My Vanishing Country by Bakari Sellers
Best way to start the morning: Slowly! Snuggled in bed with everyone
Guilt pleasure: Getting a babysitter and going out to dinner (something very missed in 2020)