(UPDATED) Denton Children's Advocacy Group Director Refuses Tattooed Moms' Donation
Mother and Tattooed Hippie Pirate Mommas founder Stacy Willingham spends time with her kids, 5-year-old Cole and 2-year-old Stella, and two massive dogs Zeus and Allie.
Photo by Danny Gallagher
UPDATE, 2:40 p.m.: Dan Leal, the center's executive director, emailed us this statement this afternoon:
"The Children's Advocacy Center for Denton County appreciated the generous offer made by the Tattooed Hippie Pirate Mommas organization; however, the money was raised with a pin up calendar that could be perceived by some as sexual in nature and our Children's Advocacy Center's mission is to provide justice and healing for children who are the victims of sexual abuse. Unfortunately, we could not accept the proceeds of this pin up calendar's sales because of the calendar's possible perception, and not the hard working mothers who sponsored it."
Original story follows:
Stacy Willingham of Denton, a freelance writer and mother of two very active kids, had trouble fitting in with the square, un-inked, Red State of mind of some pockets of suburban Texas motherhood. She birthed her youngest daughter Stella in 2011 and like most moms, she needed other moms to talk to about trying to juggle a life, a career and two kids.
She described it as an unfriendly experience.
"They acted like I was stupid for being so stressed out, for lack of a better word," Willingham said as she tries to keep her oldest son Cole from making an old fashioned stack of mud pies in their backyard. "They ridiculed me for being open and talkative and I don't get it. ... I just wanted other moms to talk to."
Stacy also has two arms full of carefully sketched tattoos, and like most of her tattooed hippie mommas, she said they also had trouble fitting into "traditional" mom groups. So they got together and formed the Tattooed Hippie Pirate Mommas. It quickly spawned other chapters across the region, the state, the rest of the country and even in London. They started using their awesome, new-found mommy powers to start fundraisers to raise money for nonprofit groups of their choosing. That honor would have gone to the Children's Advocacy Center of Denton County but Development Director Stacie Wainscott declined their offer "due to the conservative nature of our organization," according to an email sent to Willingham.
"It's total bullshit," Stacy said.
This past summer, Stacy and her fellow mommas got together to shoot some playful pin-up photos for a 2-year calendar to sell them at $30 a pop. The calendar was a huge success that not only earned them a hefty check to give to the charity of their choice but also the attention of the national media cycle in places such as the pages of the New York division of The Daily Mail and an upcoming episode of Inside Edition. It even earned them the attention of a reality TV show producer who wants to shoot the moms' stories for a pilot episode to shop to the networks and perhaps bring some sane and likable housewives to the reality culture junkyard.
Local moms like Stephanie Hopkins, Stacy Willingham and Samantha Osborn raised more than $3,000 with a pin-up calendar to give to a charity of their choosing. When they offered it to the Children's Advocacy Center of Denton County, they politely declined for reasons that still have us scratching our heads.
Courtesy of Tattooed Hippie Pirate Mommas
The attention further boosted the calendar's sales that were already well on their way to raising at least $3,000 but one of the many reporters working on a story about the group spilled the news to the Children's Advocacy Center of Denton County that the moms planned to give the center all the money. Willingham said the moms in her group wanted to give the money to someone local committed to helping children. The Denton County CAC, according to its website, helps abused children by working with local law enforcement to "reduce the trauma to child victims when they must be involved in a criminal justice process," "promote emotional health through comprehensive counseling services to victims and non-offending family members" and "hold offenders accounts for abuse of children."
The group also provides child forensic interviews for law enforcement officials and Child Protective Services investigations and additional therapy and services for families affected by such abuse with a food pantry, clothing donations, school supplies and even meals and gifts during the holidays.
Stacie Wainscott, the group's development sent Willingham an email politely declining the offer.
"First of all, being a new mom of a 1-year-old, I really commend you and this group of moms for well 'just being you,'" Wainscott wrote in her email to Stacy. "However, due to the highly conservative nature of our organization, we are going to have to respectfully decline being one of your beneficiaries. Thank you for considering us and wanting to keep it local but I also know there is another deserving organization out there."
Willingham jumped on her Facebook page to unleash a rage torrent for her followers.
"She made a judgment based on our looks and appearances," Stacy said. "She didn't know that we're nurses, reporters, social works and mothers too. She just making a judgment because we're tattooed and not conservative ... I am so mad."
Willingham said she believes their reasoning for turning down the money came from the same narrow-minded reasons that her group became such a popular force among pockets of motherhood that also turned away other moms and their children in need of companionship simply because of their choice of beauty modification or personal beliefs.
"I generally shied away from mom groups because I'm heavily tattooed, so I don't normally get invited back," said mother of six and group member Samathan Osbourn of Farmer's Branch. "I'll be honest. I didn't have family who thought twice about coming to visit. It meant a lot to have women who took time out of their lives to make sure my kids were fed and stuff when they really didn't have to."
"I didn't really try any other mom group because the only one I was interested in, the ladies from my message board were talking about their bad experience, the whole Judgy McJudgerson thing," said mother and group member Sabrina Steiner. "The biggest thing [Tattooed Hippie Pirate Mommas] did for me was give me a non-judgmental, non-panicky place to go."
Meanwhile, Willingham said she's looking for another charity.
"We chose this charity because all the moms in the calendar are from Denton and Dallas County and obviously we're mothers," she said. "We're advocates for children, so it was an obvious choice. It's their loss. We'll find someone who does want our money, who does want our donation."
Get the Arts & Culture Newsletter
Find out about arts and culture events in Dallas and offers you won't hear about anywhere else.