How a unique N.J. non-profit is thriving after 15 years
The Lauren Rose Albert Foundation celebrated its 15th year anniversary at an open house in their Washington Township headquarters on March 21, 2015. (Photo provided)
By Michelle Caffrey | South Jersey Times Gloucester County Times
on March 25, 2015 at 5:32 PM, updated March 25, 2015 at 7:23 PM
It’s been 15 years since the Lauren Rose Albert Foundation first kicked off its Mother’s Matter program, aiming to send about 100 picture-perfect gift bags of little luxuries out to women in need in their first year.
Fast forward to this spring, and the foundation is gearing up for their annual gift bag blitz, when more than 5,000 bags will go out around the Mother’s Day holiday to bring smiles throughout South Jersey. An open house on Saturday marked the milestone and the kick off of their busiest time of year.
“Nowhere in setting [the goal of 100 for the first year] did I ever imagine that 15 years later, we would be doing this,” said Susan Rose, who founded the non-profit following the sudden death of her daughter in 1999.
In an economy where many small non-profits either fizzle out in a few years or expand into a larger franchise, Rose said they’ve been able to strike a balance to keep their operation both sustainable and successful with a handful of distinct practices.
First, she said, they’ve built their foundation with a strong network of supporters including State Sen. Jim Beach, Assemblyman Paul Moriarty, the Saints and Sinners Motorcycle group, a reliable network of volunteers, corporate partnerships with Dollar Tree, Inc. and the Rothman Institute.
“I just never imagined it, but yet can’t imagine not doing it,” said Rose. “It’s just so a part of our life and our partners life.”
She also said that they’ve been smart about their growth over the past decade and a half, keeping low-key only taking on incremental expansion and only doing do when they’ve tested the waters before hand.
“I don’t want to do more than we can handle, or we’re going to lose what we strive for, which is really perfection,” said Rose.
From their spot-on color coordination to inclusion of name-brand products, each basket goes through layers of quality control and checks, destined for one of the hundreds of day care centers, hospitals, nursing homes, homeless shelters and other organizations throughout the area the program uses to reach women in need.
The idea, Rose has maintained, is to provide women a pick-me-up, a show of appreciation to hit home the fact that they matter and deserve to feel good about themselves.
The Mothers Matter gift bag program is the heart of the Lauren Rose Albert Foundation, but it also provides emergency assistance grants, scholarship grants and a Suited for Work program that helps women in need secure professional clothing for employment purposes.
They’ll be celebrating the entire foundation both during their spring collection drive and throughout the year, she said. Besides compiling thousands of gift bags at their Washington Township headquarters for Mother’s Day donations, they provide them year-round to non-profits, cancer centers and other organizations, and hold a 5k race each fall to bolster their fundraising efforts.
For more information about the Lauren Rose Albert Foundation, visit www.laurenslegacy.org.