Katherine Quirk, a nurse manager, had helped senior citizens get vaccinated during the pandemic and used a similar strategy here.
America is at the center of a baby formula shortage and it's a full-blown crisis. Caregivers are struggling to get their hands on the formula needed for their kids and for some it can even be the difference between life and death. Babies with specific dietary restrictions, especially those with allergic reactions to certain baby formulas, find it harder to get the right formula required for their baby. One woman is determined to make a difference and is helping concerned caregivers get the baby formula needed. Katherine Quirk, a nurse manager, saw firsthand the desperation of parents staring at empty shelves at the local supermarket. Quirk fed babies of her own almost a decade ago, but given her experience as a mom and a nurse, she knew the gravity of the situation.
She was eager to find a way to help distressed mothers. “I’m in many local ‘mom’ Facebook groups and I saw post after post about the need for formula and the lack of availability,” Quirk told Upworthy. Quirk turned to Facebook well aware of the power of organizing through social media. She had organized a Facebook group for senior citizens during the pandemic to help them find Coronavirus vaccine appointments in Parkland, Florida. She started out by searching for groups on Facebook aiding in finding baby formula for caregivers. After finding there was none in South Florida, where she lives, she created one on May 4, 2022, to help connect concerned caregivers with baby formula. “I wanted to provide a group, a kind of one-stop-shop, where formula could be given to individuals who needed it, as well as providing information about local stores and online availability,” she said. “Facebook was the best choice as the group allows a consolidation of information as well as a platform to get information out quickly to the public.”
Having already created a group to connect senior citizens with the coronavirus vaccine, the blueprint for organizing the operation was already there. She replicated the idea and it became an instant success. The group now has more than 900 members and comes in handy, especially for those with specific formula needs and local resources. Quirk is happy the group is helping many parents access baby formula during these tough times. The group is filled with requests for baby formula and others who have extra that they can afford to ship to someone else in need. It's a community of caregivers lending a helping hand to each other.
“The overall vibe is very positive,” she said. “Moms helping other moms. "Exchanges happening between parents if perhaps a sample was received that is not needed.” Parents will often share pictures of the baby formula available nearest to them and alert the group, helping someone else in need of the specific formula to access. Some Moms even ship the formula to those who need it. This helps parents to avoid driving all over South Florida aimlessly in search of formula supplies. “We have individuals in the group who are very skilled at checking online availability and alerting when baby formula becomes in stock online,” she said. The group also has people who “keep a protective eye on the community.”
Quirk said the idea can be used to create Facebook groups in any locality to help connect caregivers with baby formula. “If you see a need in your community for it, start it,” she said. “When the community needs help, there is no better place than social media. Start a group, share it with those you know, ask your friends to share, share in other groups if it’s an option.” Quirk measures the success of a group by the people it helps, even if it means one person benefited from it. “It takes some time and effort to monitor and grow a Facebook group,” said Quirk. "If it helps even one person then it’s worth it,” she added. “Look at your community, see where the need is and help in any way possible,” says Quirk. ”Keep things positive, keep politics out, and focus on what’s important: your mission and goal.”