The Mamalode Starter Series is an exciting opportunity for us to introduce you to some of the amazing people we get to meet. Starting something takes enormous amounts of work, faith, help and community. Every week we'll share another story of starting. So, community of Mamalode, read up, get inspired and check out these wonder-folk.
Nancy de Pastino is the Regional Manager for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.
Tell us a little bit about your organization and how you started it.
I was shocked and heartbroken when I learned what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary. I still am, honestly. My daughter was in first grade that year, and I knew intimately what was lost. I had always felt strongly that this country veered way off course on guns, but I never did anything about it. That event changed my life. I went online to see if I could volunteer for some organization, and found Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. Apparently I was the first person with a Montana zip code to click “I Want to Help” because the founder emailed me minutes later asking if I wanted to start the Montana Chapter. I said yes. Moms Demand Action was started the day after the Sandy Hook massacre by Shannon Watts, a mom of five in Indiana who had had enough. The organization now has a chapter in every single state, and is now a part of the umbrella organization of Everytown for Gun Safety with two million grassroots supporters. We work for common sense gun legislation, like background checks on all gun sales. Despite the way our opponents try to define us, we’re not anti-gun or anti-2nd Amendment. Our mission is to keep guns out of dangerous hands in order to keep our kids and our communities safer. Click here to find your local chapter.
What do your kids think about your job?
At first I didn’t want to tell them anything about my job. But kids listen even when you think they’re not. I never told my kids about what happened at Sandy Hook and I don’t tell them about the senseless gun violence I read about every single day. But I have talked to them about what to do if they find a gun and have repeated (I’m sure to an annoying degree) that guns are not toys. Without any of the horrible details that I don’t want them to know, they do know that I work to end gun violence. They’ve come to events with me, senators’ offices, and to Target to protest their open-carry policy. They find it all a little boring probably, but when Target announced guns are no longer welcome in their stores they were jumping up and down screaming, “We won! We won!” And it’s changed the way they think of me—we were at a climate rally a couple months ago listening to an impassioned speaker when my son said to me, “Mom, are you gonna get up there?” I’ve never been so amused and flattered all at once. “Not today,” I smiled.
Tell us about a total mom + biz fail?
You know, there’s no real moment I have felt was a fail. Though in many instances, I’ve had guilty feelings about how much I’m working when my kids are so young. The irony isn’t lost on me that while I’m working to make children’s lives better and safer, I have at times not been there for my own children when they need me. And I’ve had to learn how to cope with the stress of my job and put it aside so I can be a present parent. Although, I wouldn’t and couldn’t give up this work. I think it’s a very good thing for them to see me so engaged in my job, believing wholeheartedly in what I do, and at the end of the day putting it all away to play with them or watch Frozen for the umpteenth time. I want to be a role model for them and the moms who are involved in this issue all over the country. Our kids are seeing that when there’s something happening in the world that is wrong, a person can stand up, speak truth to power, and make a positive difference.
Share with us a total win (brag away!)
Much of what I’ve done in the past year and a half is stuff I never thought I was capable of. I never considered myself a leader. I certainly never thought I could speak in front of a crowd and I never thought I’d meet with our senators, congressman and governor. I never thought I’d be on TV or on the radio or have my name in print. I’m proud that I’ve taken all these things that seemed impossible and have now done them. It makes me think anything is possible (like my own mother always told me.) But what I am most proud of, by far, is the amazing team of women that now lead the Montana Chapter of Moms Demand Action. I’m no longer a lone ranger. They are the ones calling the shots, meeting the legislators, flying to DC to talk to our Montana delegation, calling corporations out on bad gun policies, and hosting events to engage our community on the issue of gun violence. I’m deeply grateful to them.
What's your relationship with Mamalode?
We go way back! I remember when the first print issue of Mamalode came out, I wasn’t living in Montana and had just had my second child. My friend sent me a newborn care package and the best thing I pulled out of that box was Mamalode. I read every word while juggling my nursing boy from left to right. When I moved back to Missoula after a long hiatus, I did a few photo shoots for the magazine, and loved contributing in that small way. Motherhood can be such an isolating endeavor, and Mamalode assures moms they are not alone.