Jamaa Birth Village means family in the African language of Swahili. Come and go with me, on the humble beginnings and birthing of a village.
At Jamaa Birth Village, I showed Dr.Blum around our small but mighty space, and shared with him all of the accomplishments we were able to make with such little funding and a team of volunteers. I myself was also volunteering at this time as Executive Director, Doula & Educator.
We sat down. He told me that both him and his partner was mesmerized by our work, and that our mission was needed in the community. He said, “Do you think you can raise $60k to buy the building, we’ll put up $125k.” My eyes bulged, mouth hung open, surges crept from the crown of my head, to every cell in my body. Without even thinking, I said, “Yes!! Yes we can! Can you give us 60-days?” He said, “You have a deal.”
Thus, The “60k in 60-Days” capital campaign was born. Immediately I got on the phone and shared the news with our board of directors. A supporter of ours found us a realtor willing to donate her time. I met with her, received all the details we needed. Overnight I created my first capital campaign for Jamaa Birth Village, built a website and launched our Go Fund Me. We were moving full speed ahead for Jamaa’s New Home!
The entire community came together to help us raise money. Families across the region were putting up lemonade stands, chiropractors were donating their client fees to us, artists were selling art and sending the proceeds to Jamaa. The city was on fire for our vision.
It was the 58th day of the campaign, and we’d only raised $12k. My board members were getting antsy and were concerned, “Do we apply for a loan? Do we close the campaign? I don’t think we’re going to make it Tru.”
I told them each, “I have the same amount of faith now that I did on the first day of this campaign, we’re going to make it, and we’re going to raise the $60k, in 60-days.”
I received a call from a writer at the River Front Times, she wanted to interview me on the next day, the 59th day. On the 60th day, in the wee hours of the morning, I stepped outside at 6am, and a childhood song played in my head, “Late in the midnight hour, gods gonna turn it around, he’s gonna work in your favor……” My phone alerts starting going off, and the Riverfront Time writer had just published the article at 6:02am.
I smiled and looked up to the sky. I shared the article on my Facebook page, and captioned it with the words from the song, and drifted off into the day, because that night at 6pm, we had a Capital Campaign Mixer planned to celebrate the success of the campaign, and I was ready to own what was ours.
The article went wild! It was trending on Google, our Go Fund Me received donations from Baseball stars, we were receiving calls from New York foundations committing money to the campaign. The community came out in full force to hear our vision, to walk the legacy of our work from 8 Church St. to our future location 40 N Florissant Rd. We raffled gifts, we prayed together and we all said our hopes for the success of the campaign. When we locked the doors to Jamaa Birth Village that night, we had raised an additional $8k, for a total of $20k in 60-days.
I went to sleep buzzing, happy, high on joy, peaceful, and just so grateful for community. I woke up at 6am again, and saw an email, with all lower case. In the email the person said they’re apart of a foundation and heard about our story, and they wanted to write off our campaign. I thought the email to be very suspicious, so I rolled over and went back to sleep. At 8am, I checked it again, and thought, I should respond, even though I thought, it was spam. They asked to set up a phone meeting for that following Monday, the 63rd day since the campaign began. I took my youngest son to my mothers, and while dropping him off, she called. I sent him kisses while trying to hold the phone and hop into the car as to not miss a single beat.
During the phone call they asked about the origins of Jamaa, and I shared my story from being a teen mom, to soon becoming my states first Black CPM, and all the wonderful work we together was accomplishing at Jamaa Birth Village. I shared our future visions.
She asked how much did we still need. I told her $40k. She said, “Send your tax letter and your address. I’ll have my courier bring you a check tomorrow. I said we’re not open again until Wednesday. She said, “He’ll be there first thing Wednesday morning with $45,000.” I didn’t believe her. It just seemed so odd. So I held my breath for 2-days in anticipation. I’ve never heard of a courier before, so this was just so new to me.
On the morning of August 22nd, 2019, at 10am, on the 65th day of the campaign, I walked into Jamaa Birth Village, drew back those curtains that I sewed, and the sun shined through, right through the middle of our front room. I walked to the back to turn on the lights, and the front door swung open. It was a man with a cap on, and a large envelope in his hand. I locked eyes with him, and said, “Yes please?” He said, “I have a courier delivery for a Miss Tru.” I slowly walked over to him, signed his paper and he handed me the envelope and said, “Have a good day ma’am.”
Right behind him came a past Doula client. She was smiling and said, “Tru, I know how much you love Sangria, and I just want to thank you for all you’ve done for me and my family, so I made you a carafe yesterday and wanted to bring it to you. Just to let you know how much you mean to us.” I could’ve have just cried in that moment. I thank her, gave her the biggest hug, and went to sit at my desk in an office that we shared with our support groups. I looked at the envelope, said the biggest prayer that this was real, placed the carafe on my desk, grabbed my keys, and went to deposit the check at the bank.
On the 67th day of the campaign, Jamaa Birth Village had did it! We made the biggest accomplishment in Black Maternal Health history in the state of Missouri. We raised $71k in 67 days for Missouri’s first Black Midwifery Clinic and future birth center. We raised more than $60k in 60-days. The community went wild in excitement! And me, I gave all the glory to the creator, my family, my community and the ancestors on whose shoulder we stand.