GRANDVIEW, Mo. — There’s a special joy that comes with having a baby. For so many struggling families in Missouri however, the financial worry of how to take care of a baby can hover over the clouds of joy.
But then you find sunshine in people like Shay Jefferson.
The newest center under the Family Resource Centers of Missouri is now open in Grandview, serving as a baby pantry. Jefferson is the founder of the organization.
“The minute you walk through that door, you are now part of the FRC family, and you will be treated as such,” she told FOX4. “Neighbors caring about neighbors is what I care about.”
From baby food to clothes to bottles, and even hygiene products for mom, it’s all available and all free of charge, no questions asked. But this is just a small portion of all the resources FRC provides.
“There’s no resident restrictions, there’s no income restrictions and it’s easy. Families can come and get food, they can get clothes,” Jefferson explained.
But founding the organization isn’t what makes her remarkable. It’s because she puts her heart into every she does. Perhaps it’s because she knows first-hand what it’s like for those she serves.
“It was September of 2011, and I needed repairs on my car. I also needed to pay my light bill. The light bill was $223,” she recalled.
The single mother of five, including a son with special needs, was facing a tough decision.
“Nevertheless, I chose to get my car repaired because I have to go to work. I have to provide for my children, and the lights went out, and we sat without power until I got paid again. That wasn’t okay,” Jefferson said.
She said one agency told her she made $10 too much to qualify for help.
“There should be somebody somewhere that can help people who are trying to help themselves, and in my mind, how dare there not be a place to help me if I’m trying to help me. When you can find a solution, you become the solution,” she said.
That was 10 years ago. Since then, her solution has expanded to six offices across Missouri,
run only by volunteers.
It’s mobile food drops on third Saturdays in Belton, senior outreach services in Clinton, summer camps and back-to-school drives in Raytown, and another baby pantry for families in Bates County.
She firmly believes no one should feel embarrassed about needing help.
“I had an older lady come in. She goes, ‘Oh Shay, I’m here begging!’ I go, ‘Honey, we family. You don’t beg from family! We don’t do that. What do you need, let me know, and I got you.’ And that’s what the FRC is built on.”
She’s fulfilling her purpose to make our communities better. She never lost focus on her calling, even when the odds were stacked against her.
“I will never forget this lady says to me, ‘Your life is over. It’s over. You can go ahead and take your food stamps and your welfare, and that’s all you’re going to ever be. You done had all these babies this young. You ain’t go do nothing else,’” Jefferson recounted. “I know I have something to do. Do I know what that something was? No. But I knew I had something to do.”
That’s what makes Jefferson a remarkable woman. Jefferson runs her organization and cares for her young son Justin, who has been diagnosed with several disorders and is on the autism spectrum. He requires a lot of her attention as he’s homeschooled, but she’s gets it done all the same.