Heather Preece of the local nonprofit Kodiak KINDNESS received a national award from the United States Lactation Consultant Association last month.
Kodiak KINDNESS is a local nonprofit focused on teaching parents the best ways to feed their infants; Preece is Kodiak KINDNESS’ executive director.. She said she didn’t even know her team nominated her and only found out via email after she won.
“It was very overwhelming,” Preece said. “I was simultaneously humbled and honored and it just makes me think about my career journey, and all the people that supported me along the way and believed in the vision of the KINDNESS project that this was possible.”
The award honors folks in the field of lactation consultation for innovation in their respective communities.
KINDNESS is an acronym for Kodiak Infant Nutrition and Development Support and Survey. The nonprofit serves about 100 families around the Kodiak Archipelago every year – that’s about 90 percent of families with newborns on the island. Nonprofits with similar missions around the state only get about a third of their populations to enroll, according to USLCA data.
KINDNESS holds classes, organizes home visits, connects folks for peer to peer mentoring, and helps parents find tools to aid them as they learn to better feed their young babies.
Preece said she founded the project in 2006 after she brought home her own newborn and was inspired by a neighbor who helped her.
“I had my own first baby and came home to the (Bell’s) Flats on a dark and stormy night in February, in the winter,” she said. “Even though I was a health care professional and worked with the WIC program and that was my job to know how to do all these things, I felt so alone with my own new baby.”
Kodiak KINDNESS currently has six peer counselors. Preece said she hopes their efforts will keep the nonprofit going for a long time.