“Will you foster a 3-month-old baby girl?”

In January 2018, a social worker called Jenny Vanderploeg Veldkamp ’06 and Dustin Veldkamp ’07 to ask that question. With four children—the youngest 10 months old—they were feeling blessed and comfortable.

“As soon as we’re comfortable, God rocks the boat,” Jenny said. “We felt God saying, ‘Do this.’”

Through online searches, Jenny learned that their foster baby’s birth mother, Katie Spang, had been sentenced to three years in a state prison in Milwaukee for her role in a drug-trafficking ring. Jenny began writing letters, then bringing baby Hailey to visit Katie in prison.

“I saw how much Katie wanted to be a different mom for Hailey,” Jenny said, “and I really wanted Hailey to have her mom back.”

Ten months into her sentence, Katie was released.

“She had nothing,” Jenny said, “no apartment, no cell phone, no car, no bank account. She was addicted by the age of 14 and had never had a real job.”

Katie’s story is not unique, Jenny pointed out.

“There’s a gap in the system. In most counties there are no services to help birth parents put their lives together and get their children back.”

The Veldkamps gave Katie a part-time job counting inventory in their essential oils business, Simply Earth. Within weeks, business boomed, and they needed Katie full time.

“She worked really hard,” Jenny said. “She also wanted to tell her story—which is our story. It drove me: ‘How can we do that?’”

The two women co-founded WildRoot, a company to make natural deodorant and sell it online. Their website pictures them with Hailey, who has lived with her birth mother for more than a year, and tells their “messy, beautiful story … as a testament that there is absolutely no pit large enough to keep you down if you want out!”

Both moms are now dreaming about how to stand in the gap with and for other women, multiplying messy, beautiful stories of hope.

To learn more, visit www.shopwildroot.com.