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Meet Kay Matthews of The Shades of Blue Project in Greenspoint

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kay Matthews.

Kay, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I am the Founder of BabyCakes & Brunch and The Shades of Blue Project. I have always worked in the Houston community as a local business owner of a catering company for over 20 years, food has always been my key to the city. If I could do nothing else I could always ensure you had food to eat. At the end of 2017, I officially retired the business and have completely focused my attention on serving and help minority women and their families before during and after childbirth. I myself experienced the loss of my daughter at birth in 2013. It was that time in my life that has thrust me into helping other women.

I didn’t have the greatest support from nurses and doctors while in the hospital nor did I receive any resources after leaving the hospital. That was a devastating experience for me and I wanted to make sure in any way that could that other woman did not have that type of experience, so while working through my own recovery, I started to help others with the maternal mental effects that childbirth can trigger for example anxiety and/or postpartum depression And for mothers like me that are grieving and yet there is still the possibility of anxiety and/or postpartum depression and these both often go untreated and dismissed leaving women to suffer in silence. Because of this, I have become an advocate for change when it comes to women’s health in the underserved communities and beyond.

Simply being a mother is hard enough but there are so many elements to it that women feel shame to reach out for help and if they do reach out for help it may not be the right kind of help, and so my mission is to help women to understand what can and may happen even before they get pregnant and continue to health during and after. Honestly, this not how I envisioned my life, I would have never imagined having to say I delivered my daughter stillborn it is something that will forever be with me and will never go away. But, what it also does is pushes me to help other women to keep going and not to give up. And we do that through the organization we have host postpartum depression groups, free community babyshowers, we help women who have experienced a loss of a child with emotional support, parenting classes and so much more. This is my way of doing more than giving back but building up women so they will do just as I have done and that’s to not see other women struggle and not receive the help they truly need.

Has it been a smooth road?
Well, when you are working in the mental health realm it’s never going to be easy. Our biggest challenge is getting women to come to us and talk. But, when they do, they are glad that they made the choice to do it. But the stigma associated with maternal mental health, so until we change the way people view on this issue, it will always make it difficult. And that is the struggle, we battle with daily.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into The Shades of Blue Project story. Tell us more about the business.
Our BabyCakes & Brunch program is where we provide diapers, wipes, and formula to moms in need. We do not have any strict requirements in order to receive services You simply just have to need and we met the need through giving the baby items requested. We have a community days schedule that includes maternal mental health and diaper days and I would like to work with others that serve mothers and we would have a mini group session on mental health and afterward give those that need diapers and wipes those items free of charge. Again, just another way to make sure that moms are both mentally and physically healthy when caring for their children.

The Shades of Blue Project is the maternal mental health awareness program. It is a journal based on the things that helped me through my postpartum depression after the death of my daughter. From the creation of the journal, I started having journal groups that meet up for a 6 weeks period and we discuss weekly the day to day struggles and how to defeat the depression and anxiety associated with childbirth.

Through both programs, outreach is the main focus and reaching young girls and women who need support. Our goal is to combat stigmas and get more conversations taking place around several things affecting our community in addition to the mortality and morbidity rates were high but also the amount of unreached young girls and women needing maternal mental health support and baby items.

I am most proud of just simply saving women mentally I remember that struggle and if I can help 1 women in her struggle that makes a world of a difference to me. And, that’s what we have been able to do.

What sets us apart is we identify and relate to the women and families we serve. I am hands on with the work we do and so that makes a difference in letting women know I’m just a regular everyday person life threw me a curveball and I’m making the best out of it every day and helping women along the journey

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
I certainly looking forward to what the future holds because it’s not just me doing the work there are so many other wonderful individuals and organizations helping in their own way, and so in 5 years, I would definitely say that the way we look at maternal mental health and women’s health as a whole would have taken a major shift. We are working hard to make that happen daily.

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Getting in touch: VoyageHouston is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

1 Comment

  1. Donna Kreuzer

    May 16, 2018 at 1:46 pm

    Kay is the BEST in all that she does! Having “been there” has propelled her into “taking action” in effort to helping “any and EVERYONE” she possibly can….. simply because the pain she endured alone SHOULD NOT BE REPEATED!!!! Rest assured, Kay won’t let this happen!!!
    May God bless you always, Kay! Thank you, Kay! Yay, Sweet Kay, YAY!

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