Friends of LLL Mini-Grants Fund Worthwhile Projects Worldwide!

Friends of La Leche League (formerly the LLLI Alumnae Association) is making a significant impact on breastfeeding in our world! In late 2018, Friends of LLL awarded a total of $6,850 in mini-grants to five unique and innovative projects. Mini-grants were awarded based on the outreach potential of the projects and how the projects helped to further the mission of La Leche League. Some focused on creating resource materials and others focused on increasing publicity and outreach. Members of the mini-grant committee were: Carroll Beckham, Amy Shaw, and Rebecca Magalhães.

• LLL of Canada-Vernon British Columbia is producing an online Prenatal Initiative Kit for all Leaders to use to encourage moms to attend LLL meetings while pregnant. Laura reports that she has submitted over 30 documents to La Leche League Canada for review and is preparing to rewrite the Parents' Class Companion.

• LLL of South Africa is distributing current copies of The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding to libraries throughout South Africa. At last report, the books had been ordered and they were awaiting delivery. It's been quite an odyssey for these books, ordered from the United Kingdom.

• The Santa Maria Hostel in Houston, TX USA serves women who are overcoming addiction and others who gave birth while incarcerated. With the mini grant, these mothers will have strong support and breastfeeding information from LLL. Grant money was used to purchase ten copies of The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, slings, breast-shaped stress balls to teach hand expression. A Benefits of Breastfeeding Box shows gadgets that reflect a benefit. Original wall art of breastfeeding mothers has been provided as inspiration and fostering the normalization of breastfeeding. Dialogue about unique challenges and solutions is still ongoing. They are now writing a job description for a lactation consultant, showing a commitment to future breastfeeding support for mothers at the hostel.

• An LLL “Breastfeeding Tour of Southern Italy” expands LLL within an historically underserved part of Italy. Leaders held meetings, spoke to health care professionals and met with Leader Applicants.

• In Oakland, CA, USA, the Better Birth Foundation is producing a flyer on breastfeeding in the black community.

Support the Friends of La Leche League mini-grants with your donation!

Mini-grant for the Benefit of Santa Maria Hostel, Houston, Texas USA

By Paula Clay

My experience at Santa Maria Hostel over the past year has given me much joy, and this “seed grant” has definitely grown and borne fruit. It has been the source of so many wonderful encounters. As always in LLL, frugality reigned in my decisions and I stretched the grant as far as possible.

My first expense was to purchase ten copies of The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. Instead of ordering online, I went to a local, independent bookstore. When I told the manager what I wanted and what it was for, he gave me a significant discount and his card telling me to let him know if I needed anything. He was obviously sincere and there was nothing untoward about his words. I plan to make contact with him again soon in regards to the Texas Area Network LLL conference, which will be in Houston next spring!

Plans Can Change

I originally planned to spend most of the grant on ring slings for the mothers, to keep their babies close. The fruit of this grant was that my contact at Santa Maria Hostel told me not to use my money for slings, that she had money in the budget and would buy them for me.

Alas, there were mishaps with purchasing and the wrong type of baby carrier has been ordered twice and we are still trying to sort this out. I used the last bit of the grant to purchase six slings, and I expect we will get more in the near future.I also purchased dolls for the moms to use to practice with the slings.

Other Projects

I purchased breast-shaped stress balls to teach hand expression. The mothers laugh as they play with them, and the balls were more economical than breast models sold by the health education suppliers.

I created my own Benefits of Breastfeeding Box with gadgets that reflect a benefit. Some examples are the pretty box containing the items, because “Breast milk comes in a pretty package;” a tampon, because “Breastfeeding delays the return of your period;” a trash bag, because “there is no waste with breastfeeding and nothing to recycle,” etc.

I asked my contacts at Santa Maria Hostel to select their favorite original art featuring breastfeeding mothers by Miriel Smith, a La Leche League Leader and artist. You can see her work at this website.
I ordered two copies each of five original art works and had them framed.

When I presented the art pieces, my contact at Santa Maria, Teresa Garcia, said that this might be the most significant thing that I’ve done. I agree.The images are beautiful, and I hope they inspire all who see them to help normalize breastfeeding.

I have primarily been working with moms in the BAMBI (Baby and Mother Bonding Initiative), WHO (Women Helping Ourselves) programs at Santa Maria. These moms were incarcerated and finish their sentence with their baby at Santa Maria.

Unexpected Results

My involvement at Santa Maria is still an evolving work-in-progress. While things have not progressed as I expected, this is not necessarily a bad thing. As I spend more time there with the moms and getting to know the staff, I am better able to assess their needs and collaborate on effective support. I do think my work has had a significant impact in reminding the staff and mothers of the importance of breastfeeding.

I expected to lead meetings similar to a typical LLL series; however, most of the moms are not breastfeeding. Instead of the often-used intro at LLL meetings of “Take what works for you and leave the rest behind,” mine is, “Even though you are not breastfeeding, you may learn something new and be better able to support your friends who are breastfeeding, or this might make it easier for you to breastfeed a future baby.”

I try to make breastfeeding information relevant to those who are not breastfeeding by including information about infant development, reading the baby’s cues, starting solids, etc. Mothering through breastfeeding and loving guidance can be adapted for all. More than once, a new mother told me that they were encouraged to breastfeed by one of the other mothers there and decided to continue because of her support.

I have established very good relationships with several of the staff members in leadership roles. We recognize our mutual good will and shared goals and are brainstorming ways to overcome the unique barriers and challenges in supporting the moms in residence at Santa Maria who want to breastfeed.

Spreading the Word

I’ve made others in the community aware of the good work done at Santa Maria Hostel by reporting on my efforts at INTENT meetings (the Houston-area breastfeeding coalition) and other organizations. The University of Houston recently received a $5 Million grant targeted to certain areas in Houston, including Santa Maria Hostel, with the highest rates of morbidity and mortality surrounding birth. While open to anyone, they are targeting the African American community.

The grant from the Friends of La Leche League has indeed planted a seed. The seed has germinated and fruit-bearing branches are growing. I look forward to continued involvement with Santa Maria Hostel, and many more years of Leadership.


La Leche League International Legacy Society: Another Way to Give Back

The La Leche League International Legacy Society has been recently formed as a way to include La Leche League International in your estate planning. According to LLLI, joining the society ..."gives you the opportunity to belong to a select group of like-minded people who are committed to supporting the needs of breastfeeding mothers."
The first 50 members will become the Founders’ Circle of the Legacy Society and will be recognized in upcoming LLLI newsletters and receive a commemorative pin to mark this commitment.
Learn more about this wonderful new way to give back to the organization you love at

New Executive Director

La Leche League International’s day to day operations are managed by IMI Association Executives, and our Executive Director is Zion Tankard.

"We are pleased to announce that Zion Tankard has joined La Leche League International (LLLI) on 3 September as Executive Director. Zion comes with an educational background including a Bachelor of Science in Family and Child Development and a Master’s in Business Administration from Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, USA. She is also pursuing her Doctorate in Education with a focus on Women’s History.

Originally from Los Angeles, California, USA, Zion has spent the last seven years working in women’s advocacy with the Durham County Women’s Commission in Durham County, North Carolina, USA. As Chair of this Commission, she was an intricate part of a resolution for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), an international mechanism that outlines women’s fundamental human rights. Thus, Durham became the first county in the Southeast region of the United States, and the first place in North Carolina, to pass such a resolution, whose significance was recognized by the United Nations.

In 2018, Zion received special recognition from the News & Observer, an American regional newspaper as “Tar Heel (a nickname for North Carolina) of the Week”, acknowledging the lasting and significant contribution of her work for the women and communities in her state.

Zion is married with four children and resides in Durham, North Carolina.

She looks forward to collaborating with LLLI stakeholders, continuing the important work of promoting breastfeeding, supporting our volunteer Leaders, families, and the healthy development of babies worldwide. Zion tells us: “I am excited to have the opportunity to serve LLLI and new people, and learn how to serve you all.”

Zion would love to come speak at your events and gatherings when the opportunity arises. She can be reached by email at or by phone at 001-919-459-2167 x6117.

A warm note of appreciation to Lee Bryan Claassen for her years as LLLI ED, for her professional expertise in helping our organization, and for her wise guidance and advice. We are fortunate that Lee is available to help Zion begin her new role with LLL.

Please join us in giving a welcome to our new Executive Director!" -LLLI