Stephanie Godwin started the Facebook group, “Real Mamas of Mt. Juliet,” in September with the intent to do some good in the community.
“I just felt like there was a lot of negativity about our county, about our schools, about our teachers and about our parents,” said Godwin. “I wanted to start something that was a little more positive.”
In just one month, the group had about 500 members and a partnership with Sister Whimzy Clothing and Gift Boutique in Mt. Juliet. The group started selling T-shirts to buy lunches for students who couldn’t afford them at local elementary schools.
“I have a lot of teachers and principals come into my salon, and I would talk to them about stuff,” said Godwin. “They told me that they had a ton of kids who couldn’t afford breakfast and lunch and weren’t getting to eat at home. They were taking money out of their own pockets so these kids could eat. Kids can’t perform, they can’t do well on these tests we give them, when they’re not getting to eat. Instead of griping, I wanted to put hands and feet to the problem.”
The T-shirts sold by the group cost $24.99 and $5 from each purchase goes to helping out children in elementary schools.
In October, the group had raised enough money to buy 55 lunches each for students at Stoner Creek Elementary School and Mt. Juliet Elementary School, but they hadn’t reached their goal yet.
This month, the group raised enough money to totally pay off the meal debts at 11 schools in Wilson County. The schools that received donations from Real Mamas were Stoner Creek, Springdale, West, W.A. Wright, Rutland, Elzie D. Patton, Lakeview, Gladeville and Mt. Juliet elementary schools and West Wilson and Mt. Juliet middle schools.
The group raised more than enough money to pay the lunches off and decided to use the remainder for more good deeds.
“We decided to use the leftover money to help out a less-fortunate family with Christmas,” said Godwin. “We still had money left over after that. What I’m hoping to do is build a relationship with some of the cafeteria managers in the county and when they have kids who build up a debt and can’t eat, we can come in and pay it off.”
Godwin wanted to do something to inspire a spirit of giving within her own children, and she said it’s worked.
“My daughter is in sixth grade at Mt. Juliet, and now her and her friends have started doing this thing where they take $1 to school with their lunch,” said Godwin. “If they see another kid who isn’t eating, they’ll buy lunch for them.”
In three months, the Real Mamas project has gone from an idea Godwin had for a Facebook group to other cities with parents who want to start a branch.
“We’re trying to make the Real Mamas brand a little more universal,” said Godwin. “I’ve been contacted by people from Lebanon, Gallatin and Hendersonville. So it’s been pretty crazy. We just had our first board meeting.”
The Real Mamas T-shirts may be purchased at Sister Whimzy at 2396 N. Mt. Juliet Road in Mt. Juliet, and donations may be made to the Real Mamas project at any Wilson Bank & Trust location in Wilson County.