Header Image of Helping Mamas throughout the years including back when helping mamas started in a garage


Helping Mamas was founded in 2014 by Jamie Lackey who envisioned aligning her passion for working in the nonprofit sector with motherhood. The Mission is Connecting helping mamas to mamas needing help.

Modern-day crisis facing mothers: There was no coordinated effort to get baby supplies into the hands of the moms who need them most. Assistance programs like WIC and SNAP don’t allow for the purchase of diapers, wipes, pack n’ plays or car seats.

HMK was opened by Tess Frear in November of 2018

Starting from her garage we are now in a larger office space. HMK supports over 70 agencies East Tennessee agencies. We are the only registered diaper bank within two and half hours of Knoxville.


Meet our team and our community leadership team

Tess Frear Headshot (Black & White) on a white stucco wall

Tess Frear 

Executive Director 

Tess graduated from the University of Tennessee with a Bachelor of Science degree in Health and Human Services. She is a Knoxville native. She is an entrepreneur at heart with over 10 years of social service experience.

In 2018 Tess was searching for ways to give back to her community and Helping Mamas embodies all of her passions. Tess started HMK in her garage collecting items. Tess enjoys spending time with her husband Derek and their two children along with their three fur babies.

Courtney Niemann Headshot (Black and White)

Courtney Niemann

Senior Program Manager 

Courtney has over 25 years of experience in primary prevention. Her passion for prevention and her wish to make a difference in peoples’ lives happens on a personal level as well as in the community. She is a Certified Prevention Specialist II and an instructor for Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs).

Courtney received her Bachelor of Science in Community Health Education and a Master of Science in Health Education and Health Promotion from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. We are so excited to have her as part of the Helping Mamas Team!

Carrie Smith Headshot (Black and White)

Carrie Smith

Warehouse Coordinator

Carrie has her Masters in Public Health with a concentration in global health. She has worked overseas to help improve the health of women and children. She is experienced in community assessments, program planning and implementation. Her passion is to serve low income women and children with a heart for children in foster care. Carrier started with Helping Mamas as an Americorps Vista for her first year and has officially joined our team!

We are so excited to have her as part of the Helping Mamas Team!

Brooke Hunn Headshot (Black and White)

Brooke Hunt

Volunteer Coordinator

Brooke has her degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Accounting from Middle Tennessee State University. She was born in Knoxville and grew up in Murfreesboro. She has volunteered with us at Helping Mamas since we acquired our first office space in 2019. Brooke has a servants heart and she was looking for ways to give back to her community.

We are so excited to have her as part of the Helping Mamas Team!


Terri Headshot (Black and White)

Terri McGuire, CTFA

Pinnacle Financial Partners

As a Trust and Investment Advisor with Pinnacle Financial Partners, knowing she is helping her clients plan for their future while taking care of today’s needs is what Terri loves best. Similarly, as a Knoxville native, she has watched our community grow, and along with that, seen the continuing growth in the number of those in need. Through volunteer service over the years, and now her work with Helping Mamas, she knows how a little bit of help can go a long way in making a long-term difference in someone’s life.

Jennifer Parkhurst Headshot (Black and White)

Jenny Parkhurst, Owner 

Jenny Parkhurst Designs 

A mother of two busy boys, an artist and interior stylist. Her creative endeavors include previously owning a lifestyle boutique, The Back Porch Mercantile for 12 years, art licensing and design for Creative Coop and her current interior styling business. Jenny is an East Tennessee native and enjoys traveling, gardening and lots of youth sports. Jenny is passionate about mentoring young women and challenging them to realize their full potential.

Michelle Fischer Headshot (Black and White)

Michelle Fischer, CEO


A mother of two, a wife, and CEO of a software company, Vehlo. She spent over twenty years in various roles in software companies culminating in her current role as CEO of Knoxville-based Vehlo in 2019. She relocated her family to Knoxville in 2020 and discovered her love of the mountains, creamsicle orange and ‘lake life’. Raised by a strong mother who left an abusive relationship, she knows first hand that it takes a village and is passionate about helping mamas become their best selves.

Gay Miller Headshot (Black and White)

Gay Miller

Raised in Clearwater, FL, I trained in Radiologic Technology before moving to Knoxville. I built a 40-year health care career at Ft Sanders and East TN Children’s hospitals and retired from an outpatient clinic. As a single mom from when my daughter was three, I experienced the challenges of financial and emotional stress. Now, I’m eager to give back, and I’m excited to join the Advisory Board for Helping Mamas Knoxville to support their mission.

Gay Miller Headshot (Black and White)

Annette Sydes

As a distinguished Affiliate Broker and REALTOR® since 2015, Annette excels in the residential real estate market. With a Masters in Public Health, it enriches her real estate career, where she guides clients through major life milestones and has a heart to help people. Her Polish roots and upbringing in Buffalo, NY have deeply ingrained a strong sense of community and family values in her. As a devoted wife to David and a proud mother to Annabella, she cherishes family time above all. Annette is deeply committed to making a significant impact in her community, drawing on her own experiences as a mother, she believes in empowering every mama with the support they need to thrive.

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