Mary's Room is dedicated to fostering the well-being of infants and young children through facilitating the donation, collection, and distribution of furniture, clothing, diapers, and other basic items for children to families while assisting them to achieve economic independence. marysroom.org focuses on families located in Watertown WI, and Jefferson and Dodge Counties.
Mary's Room was started by St. Paul's Episcopal Church in response to the need demonstrated by the statistics in Watertown, WI. We have high unemployment relative to surrounding areas, access to safe low income housing is limited and wages and benefits for unskilled labor make it difficult for women in particular to provide for their children especially if they are the sole wage earners.
Meanwhile, at the national level, critical research continues to show that emotional stability and good nutrition in the 0-3 age range prevents many problems for those children down the road. We have an excellent Food Pantry in Watertown, the federal Women and Infants Program, known as WIC, provides basic nutrition for infants but there have been no programs to provide diapers, wipes, furniture, blankets and all the other things babies need when they come into the world.
Seeing the need in Watertown, St. Paul's Episcopal Church decided to take a leap of faith with this outreach program. After deciding to serve infants and children up to 24 months with diapers, wipes, clothing and furniture, St. Paul's started collecting in the summer of 2011 and opened Mary's Room Ministry on August 1, 2011!
How We Work
Mary's Room is open three times a week. Please see our hours on the "Operating Hours and Donations" page. During our work hours, we use up to three volunteers to run Mary's Room. During our open hours, individual families come to Mary's Room collecting diapers, cleaning supplies, formula, clothing, furniture, blankets, toys, books, and much more.
A cadre of people including the volunteers comb the rummage sales during the season asking for the leftovers and offering a letter from St. Paul's Church recognizing the gift for tax purposes. We leave our flyers with people who are planning rummage sales and we make sure they know our willingness to pick up the donated items. We even go to Milwaukee consignment shops to do so.
On average, we currently serve about 47 households and 58 children. The majority of the individuals who come in are women, who are single parents, and many working in small retail or food service jobs. Some others are homeless, some are renting single rooms and are in transient situations with no furniture or resources to fix meals or do laundry.
We have plans for Mary's Room! We would like to expand our resources for the mothers (and fathers) to include a resource room with computers so that they can use it for work or education related reasons.
We would like to begin some self help groups including a group for trauma survivors as we have noted many of the women have experienced trauma in their lives. Recent research has demonstrated that trauma can have significant adverse impacts on parenting, education and employment. Our ultimate aim would be to contribute to the self sufficiency of all who need the resources of Mary's Room.
All this will of course have to wait until we stabilize our funding for our core services. You can be part of this great future by donating and helping us grow!