Since 2018, Syreeta Gordon has been at the forefront of Kangaroo Birthing, an organization dedicated to improving maternal health outcomes, particularly for Black women. Throughout her journey, she has utilized numerous ioby projects to crowdfund for various ideas and events. We sat down with Syreeta as part of our 15 ioby stories project to learn more about the growth, challenges, and future of her work in the field of maternal health.
As part of her current work, she is raising $10,000 to provide access, opportunity and education to aspiring birth and postpartum doulas, as well as midwifery training support for doulas becoming midwives.
Unshakable Motherhood was Syreeta’s first fundraising project, initiated through a mini-grant program called One Northside. The aim of the project was to educate the Black community about the role and benefits of doulas during childbirth. Syreeta organized educational workshops and a larger event featuring speakers and vendor tables, which generated exposure for her cause and contributed to the success of the campaign. The project established a community of diverse women on the Northside of Pittsburgh area who supported, exhorted and encouraged one another along the journey of motherhood.
“The event resulted in a lot of conversations around our work and helped launch the work of five doulas here in the Pittsburgh area. That’s why I always tell people, don’t look down on the small stuff, the small grants. You never know where that’s going to take you. That’s how we got our start.”
Since the inception of Unshakable Motherhood, Syreeta’s work has continued to evolve and expand. She has been involved in various initiatives, including growing Kangaroo Birthing’s postpartum support network and reach. They recently began a collaboration with the NuturHer app, which provides new mothers with a Lifestyle Manager who helps with laundry, grocery shopping, and additional scheduling needs.
“To have that postpartum support in such a critical time is very important and healing for the mothers we work with. I recently did a postpartum foot soak for a mom who had just come out of a C-section. I made her a home cooked meal and gave her space to talk about all the things that were weighing on her.” Syreeta says this is why postpartum care is a vital part of healing, because it allows people a chance to exhale some of the weight they are carrying. “At that point in the process, people really want and need to be heard. They just went through a traumatic experience and need to relieve some of the heaviness they are carrying with them. They need someone to talk to, especially knowing that not everyone has a partner around to lift some of those burdens.”
Despite the success of her projects and business, Syreeta has encountered numerous challenges in her journey to improve Black maternal health. As a Black woman, gaining access to healthcare spaces and being taken seriously within those spaces has been difficult. During the process, she has faced acts of racism, unequal pay compared to white women, and inadequate facilities. Additionally, hospitals have often disregarded the importance of doulas, treating them differently and perpetuating disparities in care.
Syreeta notes that these disparities in resources and opportunities are linked to the long history of systemic racism ingrained in American society. “If you look at it, we’re only a couple generations from slavery. My grandfather came up from the South with his family who were trying to make better lives for themselves. We are fighting to break from generational curses year after year and fighting to create and sustain financial stability.”
A key part of Kangaroo Birthing’s mission involves creating more opportunities for Black doulas and creating a community of sustainable care. “We need to invest in our Black women. This is our way out of this maternal health crisis: investing in our Black women. We were able to raise the funds to provide training for several Black doulas in the field. Who knows how many lives they have touched at this point? Through raising just $500 we were able to have a significant impact and help so many people. ”
Although she continues to work through challenges, Syreeta remains optimistic about the future. She envisions a day when Kangaroo Birthing has a paid team, allowing for greater impact and outreach. A bigger team and collaboration is a key focus for Syreeta, as she strives to unite different doula agencies and communities. She hopes to continue opening doors of opportunity for minority women, addressing the gaps and disparities in the birthing world. She remains passionate about creating change and ensuring that all women receive equitable and compassionate care during pregnancy and childbirth.
Crowdfunding has played a significant role in Syreeta’s journey, offering an alternative to traditional grant funding. The ability to harness the support of the community through platforms like ioby has provided her with the necessary resources to further her mission. Syreeta emphasizes the importance of not underestimating small beginnings, as they can lead to significant accomplishments and unforeseen opportunities. Having crowdfunded for nearly 5 years, Syreeta has found it to be a valuable tool for raising funds for her projects. As she embarked on her mission to improve maternal health, ioby provided an alternative to traditional grants, offering more control and flexibility over the fundraising process.
“With crowdfunding, we are taking our destiny into our own hands. We aren’t waiting on grant funds and the whole process that comes with that. We are asking our community to partner with us to change more lives. Changemakers can take the power back. We are the ones making the decisions to change our neighborhood and bring about that positive change we want to see.”
Syreeta’s current project has raised nearly $5,000 of the $10,000 goal. Read more about her current work and support her project today!
Have a great idea to get good done in your neighborhood? We want to help! Share your idea with us and we can help get you started.