Q&A with So Big Founder and President Lori Buzzetti
Nested Spaces’ Writer Meghan Locke Sits Down with Lori Buzzetti, Founder and President of So Big – an Indianapolis non-profit organization that provides shelter, education, and love to expectant women in need. Keep reading to learn more about this wonderful organization that Lori has created.
Meghan: Can you tell us a little bit about your background and how you became passionate about women’s health? Did you always know you wanted to be a doctor?
Lori: I’ve wanted to be a doctor since I was 5. Initially I thought I wanted to do pediatrics, but once I learned about OBGYN in medical school I fell in love with the specialty. I matched at IU here in Indy for my residency program. After I completed my training, I went into private practice on the southside of Indy. I did that for 6 years and I then took a position as teaching faculty for the St. Vincent Women’s OBGYN residency program. While serving there, I also became the associate program director, which entailed being director of the Women’s Health Clinic at the Joshua Max Simon Primary Care Center.
Meghan: What led you to found So Big? What is the organization’s mission?
Lori: In 2008, while I was working as the director of the Women’s Health Clinic, God laid it on my heart to help women that were in desperate situations to choose life. While supervising the residents’ clinic, I often saw women who were pregnant and living in their car, living in shelters, and needing a script so they would be given more food. I also saw a woman who sat crying in the exam room because she felt like abortion was her only option. As God showed me these different situations, He laid out a picture of a home where women could find shelter, food, and most of all, love. Our mission is to bring glory to God as we connect pregnant women with resources to help break the cycle of poverty and improve pregnancy outcomes.
Meghan: What developments has the organization made since we last spoke in July 2019?
Lori: Since we last spoke, we have developed several programs at the house. We now have a “steps for success” binder for the women to work through while living at the house. It’s all about helping them prepare to live on their own and successfully support their families once they leave the Mountain House. We have also developed “hot topics” on Saturday mornings where we have outside speakers come and talk with the women and educate them on interviewing skills, dressing for success, goal planning, etc.
In addition, a fun activity that we have started is creativity night where volunteers teach the women how to paint, decorate cakes, do scrapbooking, and more. We have also developed a theme for each month to celebrate the seasons where the staff plans an activity for the residents and staff. For example, September’s theme was football and although we couldn’t attend a game, we had a tailgate out in the driveway. We have also started asking the women to volunteer at other organizations. Right now, the staff and residents take a day a month to serve at places like Shalom House and Whitestone Ministries. Lastly, we are starting to work with the IU school of social work and will begin having interns at the house to help with their training.
Meghan: How did COVID-19 affect your business and how did you overcome any challenges 2020 presented?
Lori: Our private funding was down last year, and we are working to regain some of that loss now. We were able to have a golf outing last fall, which did help, but it did not bring in same amount of dollars that our evening gala has brought in in past years. However, we were very fortunate in that we never had COVID at the house. For a period of time, we stopped receiving resident applications as we did not want to bring in anyone new. We stopped using volunteers during that time and relied only on staff to keep the traffic down at the house. Since the house was quieter, it did allow the staff to work on and develop the programs listed above. We are now back up to full speed and are excited for what God has in store for us next.
Meghan: What is the current capacity of the So Big house? Are you accepting any women at this time?
Lori: Currently we have three beautiful women living at the house along with one baby and two children. We have capacity for four women and their babies as well as an additional child that is ten or younger.
Meghan: What’s the best way to connect you with pregnant women in need? What are the requirements for residency?
Lori: If you know of someone in need you can call the house at 317-617-2900. Requirements are that the applicant is still pregnant, in an unstable living arrangement or homeless, and not actively dealing with substance abuse or domestic violence. She can come at any point in her pregnancy and can live at the house for up to a year after her baby is born. We do have polices and expectations that the women must follow while living at the home, and they are required to participate in the programs that we have set up at the house.
Meghan: Can you give us more details on this year’s annual gala?
Lori: Our Born to Sparkle Gala is on October 7, 2021, and will be held at the Cardinal Room at GCI. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and the evening will go until 9 p.m. We will have dinner catered by Sahm’s. We will also have a silent and live auction and comedian Dustin Nickerson as our entertainment for the evening.
Meghan: What donations are you currently in need of?
Lori: In addition to monetary donations to help with operations of the house, we also have an Amazon Wish list link that includes all the items we need: https://www.amazon.com/hz/wishlist/ls/J5JAKN6Q8NAO/ref=nav_wishlist_lists_1?_encoding=UTF8&type=wishlist.
We also have a meal train for people that would like to donate that way: https://www.mealtrain.com/trains/r3g137.
Meghan: In what ways can our community help So Big other than donating items?
Lori: We are always in need of volunteers. We need people to help with transportation, house cleaning, childcare during our educational activities at the house, maintenance repair, medical advocates, yard work, as well as help with our fundraising gala. To sign up for any of these needs, you can go to our website at: https://www.sobig.org/contact.html and click on the volunteer button, or you can contact our assistant director Sarah at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meghan: What are your plans/goals for the rest of 2021 into 2022?
Lori: To make our gala a successful event, to continue to further develop the programs that we discussed earlier. We are also developing the structure of our board of directors more to be prepared to follow the next steps that God has for So Big.
Meghan: What prayers can we lift up to God for the organization?
Lori: 1.) That we receive the funds that we need to keep the Mountain House operational. It costs about $220,000 a year to run the house, which includes payroll costs for our employees. 2.) That He bring discernment and wisdom as we structure the board of directors. 3.) And finally, that God would prepare our hearts to serve the women and children that He will bring to the house.
Thank you, Lori for taking the time for this interview! We are excited for all that is to come for your organization. Click here to learn more about So Big.