After terrible loss, mom creates easier way to help families in need

After a tragedy, Laura Malcolm's friends and family sent meals and flowers. But she wondered if there was an easier way to help others.

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/ Source: TODAY
By Meghan Holohan

In 2013, Laura Malcolm and her husband James Kocsis were looking forward to the birth of their first child, Layla. But at 35 weeks, something went wrong and Malcolm delivered her daughter stillborn. The couple felt devastated, lost and unsure of what to do next.

“She was unexpectedly stillborn,” Malcolm, 36, told TODAY Parents. “We didn't even know that was a thing and so we went home from the hospital without my daughter.”

When Laura Malcolm unexpected delivered a stillborn baby girl, Layla, at 35 weeks she and her husband struggled. But meals and flowers from loved ones helped them feel supported and loved. Courtesy Laura Malcolm

As they tried coping, gifts started pouring in from friends and family across the country. At the time, Malcolm and Kocsis lived in Los Angeles. Her family was in Seattle, his in New York. Coworkers set up a meal calendar and local friends left food in a cooler outside their house. But then people from across the country called asking how to help. While the couple had Instacart at the time, no one else did, and they struggled to explain what they needed.

“That was a lot of work for them and it was then a lot of work for us,” Malcolm explained.

But that experience sparked an idea: What if there was a site that allowed friends and family to help loved ones in times of need or joy? Using her experience and the idea of a meal train, Malcolm believed she could start a company to make it easier.

“That feeling of helplessness when someone that you love is going through something and you're far away it is a bummer. It's really hard and so we thought, ‘Gosh there has to be a better way,’” she said. “We realized that (meal trains) weren't really updated for our modern lives.”

After her own experience receiving meals and gifts after pregnancy loss, Laura Malcolm realized there had to be a better way to help loved ones during trying and exciting times. That's when she thought of Give InKind. Courtesy Laura Malcolm

That better way? Give InKind. The site allows people to plan meal schedules for loved ones but offers so much more. People can send gift cards or link to a fundraising page. It offers all the things people need to support someone going through a tragedy, such as death, house fire, unexpected illness or pregnancy loss. But it could also be a way to support someone who recently had moved or had a baby (a quarter of all Give InKind pages are baby-related, Malcolm said). People even can share updates with everyone on the page and the company is considering ways users can thank people for donations, too.

“Our users talk about how much easier Give InKind made their lives that they were usually able to jump in and help,” she said.

While Give InKind simplifies assisting others, it also makes asking for what items you need more diplomatic.

“It (is) easier for people to communicate the things that they need,” Malcolm explained.

Give InKind's started after a family tragedy. But Laura Malcolm's family continues to be a part of the company's development. Courtesy Laura Malcolm

While many people do request tangible things, such as meals, gifts or gift cards, people can also ask for intangible assistance, such as dog walking or picking children up from school.

“There are all kinds of different ways that we show up for people,” she said. “Being able to subtly communicate some of these things … is helpful.”

Three years ago, Malcolm and Kocsis packed up their then 18-month-old son to live in Thailand and work closely with Give InKind’s site developers located there. Just recently, they took both their sons, now 5 and 2, back to complete the site. Kocsis did all the design on the site. Malcom says the company started because of family and is successful because of it.

“This came out of tragedy. But the number of lives that we have helped is amazing,” she said. “We see the impact that it has on people every day.”