Nearly 600 Moms Connect Through Area's Mothers & More Chapter
Saturday, December 17, 2011 • 4:42pm
Mothers in the area can find extra help and parenting advice from the volunteer-run organization Mothers & More.
Judie Hurtado, publicity coordinator for the area’s chapter, said the Maplewood/South Orange chapter is one of the largest chapters in the country. “Our chapter includes Livingston, Short Hills, Maplewood, South Orange, West Orange, East Orange, Union, Millburn, and Springfield,” Judie said
Judie said that she moved to Maplewood more than seven years ago from Brooklyn. “Shortly after we moved,” she said, “I heard of Mothers & More and I immediately joined.”
Mothers & More is a national, volunteer-run organization that helps mothers in all the different stages of their lives. The community-based chapters and virtual networks help members focus on their identity, make meaningful connections with others, and support women as they face motherhood's challenges. “We have approximately 559 members and growing,” Judie said.
Mothers & More has chapters in every state of the USA as well as International States. There are currently 17 chapters in New Jersey.
“I don’t remember exactly how I had heard of the organization,” Judie said. At the time, her daughter was just over a year old. “I joined playgroups and met other Mothers & More members in the playground with their kids.”
After Judie joined the organization, she participated in as many activities as she could. “It helped me so much with the transition of moving to a new area with a child,” she said. According to Judie, Mothers & More is committed to creating a place for mothers to feel a part of a larger community of women who are experiencing the challenges that all mothers face, not only in raising children but also in fulfilling their sense of self and self-worth.
Mothers & More even has a private message board on BigTent. If members are stuck in the house with a sick child or two, the message board can be a lifesaver, Judie said. “I posted on the ‘eloop’ with every question I had,” she said. “I trusted the responses because they were coming from mothers who had been there, done that.”
Judie said all moms are welcome. “Members are stay-at-home moms, moms balancing paid work and family care and all moms in between,” she said, and even dads can join.
“Our chapter offers monthly general meetings,” Judie said. According to Judie, most meetings feature a guest speaker. “We have had speakers ranging from psychologists talking about child rearing issues to ways to save money-using coupons,” she said.
“Some popular meetings have been about child rearing, such as when Dr. Rob Handleman and Betsy Wald spoke on the struggle of raising children,” Judie said. “A general membership meeting we had with stylist/member Kerry Cordero on personal image (clothes, hair, colors) etc. was well-attended. Our annual meetings on local preschool and daycare options are always a huge hit.”
Mothers & More also gives back to the community. “We host clothing, toy, book drives, as well as Halloween costume swaps,” Judie said. “Previous drives included toy drives. Mothers &More has traditionally organized their drive -- Power of the Purse -- to coincide with Mother’s Day, rather than the winter holidays.”
“At each of our swaps, we donate the leftovers to charity,” she said. “The toy drive stuff went to Haiti, the clothing drive goes to some churches. The remainder of the books from this year's book swap went to the East Orange Public Library.
“Additionally, we have many sub-groups within our chapter, such as Moms With Big Kids, Moms With Twins or Multiples, and Moms-Owned Business Groups,” Judie said. Sub-groups, various playgroups, monthly book club and others meet on a regular basis in addition to the monthly meetings. “We even have a Care Network subgroup that helps moms in need -- whether they just had a baby or need help for whatever reason.”
The next general meeting is in January. Membership dues are $45 per year. Guests are allowed to attend two events before joining.