She Knew There Was A Better Way To Get Help. A Tacoma Website Was The Answer

By Kate Martin The News Tribune (Tacoma, Wash.)

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Laura Malcolm is the founder of "InKind", a Tacoma startup she created after realizing there had to be a better way to organize support around a loved one's loss or celebrate a special family addition.

The News Tribune (Tacoma, Wash.)

Three years ago, Laura Malcolm and her husband, James Kocsis, were ready to welcome their first child. At eight months pregnant, Malcolm thought little Layla could be born at any moment.

The car seat was installed, ready to carry her home. They had packed a hospital bag, the clothes were washed and the nursery was put together.

Then they lost their daughter to a stillbirth.

"I had a baby shower. Everyone was waiting for the baby announcement," said Malcolm, 33. "We left the hospital with empty arms."

As the awful news trickled out to family and friends, an avalanche of support followed.

They filled her home with flowers and offered help, food and sympathy. Friends organized meals for every night of the week through a website called Meal Train.

"When you are grieving, cooking is hard to accomplish," she said. "Going to the grocery store was hard."

But as a Pierce County transplant living in Los Angeles, with a husband from New York, distant friends and family couldn't just drop off a casserole or a pan of macaroni and cheese.

Trying to organize all of the help someone needs often required multiple websites: medical updates on one website, raising funds on another, meal organization by a third and a gift registry on a fourth.

Enter Give InKind, a Tacoma startup Malcolm created after realizing there had to be a better way to organize support around a loved one's loss or celebrate a special family addition.

The website combines the utility of several other websites, such as Meal Train, CaringBridge, GoFundMe and more. Not sure what to say after a friend says she has cancer or her father is in hospice care? Give InKind has suggestions on how to support friends in need, even if you don't know what to say or how to act.

The website "can help shape that conversation and the way we take action to support our loved ones so we don't sit around going, 'I don't know what to say. I don't know what to do,' " Malcolm said. "Everything about Give InKind is to make it easier and more thoughtful to give support in these situations."

Not everyone can be near loved ones during the holidays, she said. As the years pass, some need more assistance than others. Give InKind can help organize that help.

"The holidays are a great time to think of what you can do to help someone throughout the year," Malcolm said.

If someone has lost a family member, don't shy away from the topic, she said.

"Include missing loved ones in your toast at dinner and light a special candle on the table in their memory," Malcolm said. The website launched in mid-September, just in time for Molly Tallon and her husband, Rob, of Seattle to use it for the birth Maple, a daughter.

The Tallons found the site useful for marshaling help and support.

People have volunteered to walk their pug mix, Walter, and offered to take their 3-year-old son, Huck, along. Friends and family are volunteering to cook or schedule meal delivery with the website's calendar function.

As a trained doula, Tallon said she's familiar with websites like Babylist, a gift registry website, and Meal Train. Give InKind is "all of those things in one," she said.

The website is free to use. Give InKind earns a commission when people buy items or services through the website from more than a dozen vendors, such as Amazon, Munchery and Uber.

The venture is self-funded, though Malcolm said she is starting conversations with investors.

Malcolm brought her family to Tacoma in July and runs Give InKind out of her home.

She cites Tacoma's proximity to Seattle's bustling tech scene, and its own burgeoning one, as another draw for her. But she also moved here to return to her roots and be near family.

"Now that we are entrepreneurs, free child care is No. 1," she said.

A little more than a year after the storm of grief following Layla's loss, Malcolm and Kocsis had reason for needing child care -- and joy. They had a son, Diego, who turned 2 this month. She calls him her "rainbow baby."

They are looking forward to their Thanksgiving trip to the Oregon Coast with their family -- the first since they moved to Tacoma in July. They'll reconnect with aunts, uncles and cousins. Diego will see two great-grandparents and one grandparent.

"My grandfather is one of the few people who makes turducken." she said.

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