Opinion

Club offers support, validation for moms

During the interim between when a column is submitted and when I read it in a paper, sometimes my perspective shifts.

I’ll see the words in print and gasp, “Oh my. What did I say? Will they understand? This reads much more self-serving and cocky than I meant it to.”

And then I’m reminded of that admonishment from Bob Abel a few years ago, “Mary, not everything is about you.”

No, and this column is not about me. It’s about the M.O.M.S. Club of Port Orchard and all the work that they do supporting each other and the community.

The group’s work is significant — and besides, it can’t be about me. I’m almost an empty-nester. I don’t have any babies or little children at home anymore.

I saved all (and I mean all) their toys and clothes in the event that some day I can have babies and little children in the house again, but for now my babies are heading off into the wide, wide world.

I just saw my oldest leave for Scotland this morning. She was accepted into the University of St. Andrews.

Yes, exactly. The St. Andrews of the famed golf course. The place where both Prince William and Kate Middleton went to school that sits right on the North Sea.

The oldest (and greenest) university in Scotland and one of the three oldest in Great Britain, where my daughter will hob-nob with dukes and duchesses and no doubt strengthen her belief that she is in a class (or two) well above me (and you, too. I am not in this alone.)

What? Oh, yes. Sorry. Sharp knuckle rap across the forefingers. This column isn’t about me. It’s about mothers and all the sacrifices they make and the efforts they endeavor to make the world better for themselves and their babies.

So, shall we begin?

When last I wrote about the M.O.M.S. Club of Port Orchard in August of 2004, it was relatively new. President Harriet Greenberg, who had been president of a group that met in Silverdale, founded the Port Orchard chapter and stepped up almost immediately to take over Toddler Time, previously run by Kitsap County Parks and Recreation.

Since then the club has branched out in ways that have delighted and surprised Greenberg, who has become one of new president, Becci Vanni’s biggest fans.

“You always want to see what you have started blossom and grow,” Greenberg said, “but this group as grown in ways more amazing than I could have foreseen. I am so proud of everyone, especially Becci.”

Besides Toddler Time, a play activity held at Givens Community Center each week that is open to the community and offers mothers and toddlers play time, an arts and crafts activity, songs and snacks for just $1 per child, the M.O.M.S. stepped up to rescue the Daddy/Daughter Dance this year, when cutbacks at the county threatened to cancel the program.

The sweetheart dance offered at two times on Feb. 9, (5:30 and 7:30 p.m.) gives fathers (and non-biological dads) the opportunity to take a daughter (or two or three) out for an elegant evening for Valentine’s Day.

The M.O.M.S. Club has worked hard to plan for a lovely outing for the girls, securing refreshments through the generosity of local grocery stores (including significant contributions by Fred Meyer’s), and music with a D.J.

For a fee of $15 per daddy/daughter couple (and $5 per each additional daughter), each girl will leave the dance with a special gift bag, a commemorative photo of her and dad, and a flower.

The well-loved dance usually draws out fathers and daughters of all ages, from toddlers to daughters in their 20’s.

Some tickets are still available by calling 360-356-1192 or e-mailing mcdanceinfo@yahoo.com. (Pre-registration is requested to insure accommodation.)

“It’s so fun to see these little girls in their lacy dresses dancing with their feet on top of their father’s shoes. This dance means so much that we knew we had to save it,” said Greenberg.

As Greenberg tells it, the club has gotten secure and strong enough to not only take on events like the dance, but to reach out beyond its own shores.

Proceeds from the dance will be divided between a rehabilitation home for mothers and children and a national Mother to Mother Fund that offers grants and scholarships to mothers in need of support.

In the past, the fund has helped Hurricane Katrina refugees and has reached out to Centralia flood victims. All a mother need to do is be a member of a club in good standing. Since dues are only $20 a year, this isn’t difficult.

It’s all about supporting each other, both Vanni and Greenberg emphasize. This is where it gets hard to write (and read) about the Club.

You start wishing that such a group existed when you needed it.

The women have worked hard to create a secure, safe and loving place to have their needs met. When a member is undergoing a transition, or a stress in her life, like a death in the family or a new baby, members will gather together and make dinners and arrange visits.

“Sometimes,” Greenberg explained, “you don’t need the support so much and other times you need it a lot.”

They even offer a babysitting co-op, in which, “No money is transferred,” Greenberg said. “When you babysit for someone, you get tickets, which you in turn can use.”

In addition, the stay-at-home and work-at-home moms’ support group hosts daytime events of all types, from field trips and outings, health and fitness groups, to cooking and crafts classes and scrapbooking parties.

One of the things that the club is most proud of is its support of the efforts of mothers to start and run businesses. A new “business moms group” was founded as part of M.O.M.S.

“We share successes, challenges and offer each other encouragement,” explained Vanni.

All the women in this group have since joined K.N.O.W. (Kitsap Network of Women), business women who meet once a week for an hour at noon on Thursday at Capriccio Catering & Cafe at the Towne Square Mall.

Together the women are offering a special Valentine Vendors’ Fair on Feb. 10 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at member Heather Cole’s new business located at 703 Kitsap Street in downtown Port Orchard.

I wish I could say what exactly Heather does. It sounds like everything, from consulting in interior design, to hosting “Mommy and me” tea parties at her beautifully remodeled home to selling lovely, elegant dress up clothes for children.

Heather seems to exemplify the mothers who make up the M.O.M.S. Club, busy, creative and talented women, with a dozens things on their plates, who make time to love and support each other.

Contact Becci Vanni at (360) 616-2407, Harriet Greenberg at (360) 874-0648 or check out MOMSclub.org.

For the KNOW group and more on the vendors’ fair - www.kitsapknow.com.

Mary Colborn is a Port Orchard resident.

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