Our Purpose:

Third Strand is a NonProfit (501c3) organization whose mission is to provide safe donor breast milk to healthy nursing babies who have lost a mother or whose mother is unable to breastfeed due to a serious illness or disease. In addition, Third Strand has implemented an additional program, based upon availability, to provide donor milk to adopted newborns.

Third Strand proactively seeks out families that, in accordance with our mission, we might be able to serve. At the same time, we rely heavily upon our community of supporters to spread the message of the services that we provide and to notify us of stories that we can offer our support. Each and every request for milk is reviewed, individually, and based upon a combination of factors, a decision is made that is the interest of the health of the baby. It is our goal to provide safe donor milk to any baby, in accordance with our mission. Donor milk is distributed to adopted infants based upon the current amount of donor milk we have in stock.  

Third Strand is a faith-based organization that was born from the death of Kalee Joy-Barton, in September 2016. Kalee passed away, unexpectedly, days following the birth of her newborn baby boy. Kalee was a daughter, a little sister, a new wife, a mother to a young daughter and to her newborn son. Deeper, though, she was a young woman who displayed the love of God through her faith, love and service to others. These are the attributes that are the foundation of Third Strand - faith, love and service. 

The name of our organization was taken from Ecclesiastes 4:12, which ends with the words, “…a cord of three strands is not easily broken.” We find our strength through the intimate generosity of mothers who choose  to donate their own breast milk to our mission.

In September 2016, our family was blessed with an overwhelming supply of donor milk. In all, we received close to forty gallons of milk from mothers who wanted to help. This was an unexpected blessing in the haze of losing a loved one. However, we were left with questions and an unintentional lack of coordination resulted in additional stresses such as storage and handling. In addition, we did not know anything about the mothers who were donating their milk to our baby. Our focus was on the health and safety of the baby.

Through consultation with physicians and breast milk experts, we were directed to the milk banking industry. The eyes of two West Texas men were opened to an unfamiliar world - one that we did not even knew to exist. However, we quickly learned of many deficiencies that needed to be addressed. Primarily, we found there to be absolutely no programs available to provide screened and pasteurized donor milk, the same that is provided to infants in NICUs and hospitals across the country, to healthy babies in the most tragic times imaginable. 

We discovered an unimaginable price tag attached to donor milk, ranging anywhere from $6 to over $30 PER OUNCE. We had been blessed to receive close to forty gallons of donor milk which equated to a price tag of over $35,000.00 from a milk bank. To us, this was simply unacceptable. We could not swallow the fact that mothers had graciously donated a part of themselves to the well-being of our baby, and, yet, in order to safely utilize this gift, we were offered the “opportunity” to pay such a heavy financial cost. 

There are dozens of milk banks across the United States. Some are Non-Profit and some are For-Profit. Though their business models differ slightly, they are all focused solely upon sales to hospitals. These milk banks, in fact, do an admirable job in feeding sick and premature infants in a hospital setting. In these cases, the hospitals purchase the milk directly from the milk banks, and the cost is transferred to the patient, whose insurance generally picks up the tab. However, once an infant is outside of the hospital setting, insurances will not cover the cost of donor milk. 

The World Health Organization, along with the overwhelming consensus of researchers and healthcare providers “strongly recommends” exclusive breast milk give to an infant in the early, formative months. At the same time, these same organizations and professionals “strongly discourage” the act of informal milk sharing between mothers, citing several dangers to the health and safety of the nursing infant. This dichotomy leads to confusion and an overall lack of dialogue among breastfeeding mothers. 

We found that the system was broken. In West Texas, when something is broken, we fix it and we make it stronger. We quickly recognized the strength in the passionate mothers who shared an unexplainable bond with one another. This bond encourages them to help one another, even when they know nothing about the person they are helping. We found it to be love personified. 

At the same time, we recognized the dangers associated with informal milk sharing. We found an alarming lack of information being gathered and seemingly difficult questions going unasked. 

Third Strand developed a model that allows us to provide a formality to this informal process. 

We collect donor milk from mothers who willingly choose to support our mission. Though our own screening process, developed with the help of healthcare providers and psychiatrists, we provide the security of knowing that the milk we distribute is safe. 


The information gathered through our screening process is kept strictly confidential in accordance with HIPAA laws and regulations, keeping our focus on the health and safety of the babies we are able to feed. 

Recipient families are not provided with any details of our donor mothers. However, donor mothers may choose to be notified when their milk is used by Third Strand to feed a baby. 

Through a tracking process of the milk, close communication with the family, and consultation with the infant’s doctors, we are able to monitor the safety of the milk, the health of the baby, and the effectiveness of the milk provided. In many cases, we are able to provide appropriate donor milk as dietary issues are discovered in the infants we serve. 

Third Strand is recognized and endorsed by a large number of health care providers, hospitals and pediatricians in our local area. In fact, many of the requests we have received have either come directly from these professionals on behalf of a family who meets our mission or through a recommendation from these professionals. 

While the mission of Third Strand is focused upon feeding babies, our purpose is much greater than that. Through our journey, we have witnessed the power of God’s love and his plan in our lives. Through compassionate service, it is our goal to display that love and encourage those we serve to find trust in that plan.  

We believe that our story speaks volumes to God’s plan. Only he would have ever seen fit to take two men - a Captain on the Fire Department and a West Texas Landman - who both enjoy hunting and fishing, a well cooked steak, a good glass of whiskey and some Texas football in the Fall - and lead them into a world of breast milk. 

Through faith we have discovered a passion for serving others through our work with Third Strand. And, through our donor mothers and our community of supporters, we have uncovered a strength that allows us the ability to help those who need our help - many in their darkest hours. 

Third Strand finds its strength in Mothers Helping Mothers. And, through faith, we have stepped into what was once the unknown and uncomfortable. We stepped out of the boat and onto the water, knowing, that those footsteps, my friends, are the footsteps that create waves.

Thank you for taking the time to learn about Third Strand and the work that we have dedicated ourselves to. We encourage you to always look for opportunities to show love, display faith and give service in whatever platform that God has provided you with, and find the courage and the faith grow beauty from the ashes of defeat. We also encourage you to continue to follow and support the work and the journey of Third Strand.

“Though one may be overpowered. Two can defend themselves. However, a cord of Three Strands is not easily broken.” - Ecclesiastes 4:12