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Conversations with the Inspiring Ashley Gooden-Stewart

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ashley Gooden-Stewart.

Ashley, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I always had a big capacity to care and the desire to serve others. I grew up in La Marque, TX. I helped my mom distribute donated clothing, food, and toys to local charities and agencies. My grandparents instilled in me the power of giving and helping others as well. I graduated from Lamar University in 2010 and earned a Master’s degree in Public Administration. I received a certificate in Nonprofit Leadership & Management from Austin Community College. Shortly after the loss of my infant son, CJ Stewart, I decided to found a nonprofit organization to commemorate him. With the help of my mentor Barry Silverberg, The Baby Stewart Foundation became into existence in August 2015. We are a resource to the Galveston County area. We have provided families with free car seats, Baby Boxes, diaper boxes, hygiene kits, feminine hygiene care, Francesca’s clothing and shoes, Jansport backpacks and school supplies. Our organization is completely mobile and we deliver items to our clients locally.

I am married and I had two children after the loss of my infant son CJ. My team consists of my husband, family, and friends. We have made a difference in many individuals lives through outreach, awareness, and distributing basic necessities.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
This journey has not been easy. Every day, I grieve the loss of my son. I strive to keep my son’s memory alive and allow his legacy to live through me. When I receive rejection letters from donors, I don’t feel defeated. Rejection only makes me try harder. Having strong faith allows me to persevere. I would like women to know that being told “no” for grants, donations, partnerships, or support is not a reason to give up. It can be discouraging at times and difficult but your hard work will pay off. Those “no’s” will eventually be met with the power of “yes.”

it’s tough not being able to meet every clients needs due to a lack of funding and donations.

What should we know about The Baby Stewart Foundation? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I have worn several hats within my organization. In the beginning, I instructed basic car seat safety classes and gave participants free car seats after completion of the course. I took on an initiative to promote healthy hygiene practices and distributed hygiene kits and feminine hygiene care to the community. My team and I distributed condoms and safe sex pamphlets to the public. We distributed clothing and shoes to women and girls in need, those affected by Hurricane Harvey and other natural disasters, and project prom. We restore the hope of those grieving the loss of a child and bring awareness to pregnancy and infant loss. We currently educate families on safe sleeping (SIDS) and disturbed Baby Boxes from the Baby Box Company. We distribute baby boxes with baby necessities to expectant mothers. We also partner with organizations to give out Jansport backpacks and school supplies to families. Our organization is self-funded and many of our partners and donors donate quarterly. Our organization is different than most because we are able to deliver items to our clients. Transportation is sometimes a barrier for most of our clients.

What do you feel are the biggest barriers today to female leadership, in your industry or generally?
The biggest barriers for women in leadership is a lack of support. People simply fear what they don’t understand. I feel we could be more powerful if we can all team up to collaborate instead of being competitive. It doesn’t take much to be in attendance to an event a sister is hosting, listening to a podcast, sowing a seed into her project. Together we stand, divided we fall.

Contact Info:

              Image Credit:
Krystle Ceasar

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