Community

Mother Mentors celebrates 3 years of family support

Mother Mentors of Whidbey Island, a nonprofit organization inspired by similar groups scattered throughout the United States, grows out of the complex reality of motherhood; despite having everything prepared for the birth of a baby, emergencies and uncertainty do happen.

Mother Mentors nurtures mothers and other caregivers of young children by providing practical and emotional in-home support. Trained volunteers ease the load and stress of parenting by providing an empathic ear, a strong shoulder, an extra pair of hands or a fresh cup of tea. It’s a simple idea based on centuries of wisdom and validated by contemporary research. A mother — any mother — will be a better parent if she is supported, said a Mother Mentors spokesperson. She will thrive, her child will thrive and the community will benefit.

On the Summer Solstice morning of Wednesday, June 20, Mother Mentors of Whidbey Island held a free breakfast benefit to share a little of their mothering with the community and to honor Bess Windecker-Nelson. This celebration marked Mother Mentors’ first three years of service to 27 families and 51 children.

The breakfast, prepared by Mother Mentors with ingredients donated by local farmers, bakers and grocery stores, and served by members of the South Whidbey High School Honor Society, spoke to the support and care of the South Whidbey community for its mothers and children.

There was music, storytelling, laughter and tears; food for the body and the soul. Aaliyah Kois Jacob and Linda Good played violin as guests arrived. Peter Morton served as emcee. Mara Grey provided a story and played her harp. Kristin Lasher, program founder, also spoke.

The fast-paced program, held at the United Methodist Church in Langley honored Windecker-Nelson for her many years of outstanding work in Island County on behalf of families and young children. Karin Watson and Sharon Bell talked about how Windecker-Nelson has worked with preschools and support agencies and how her community organizational skills have helped bring about a strong coalition for early learning in the community.

Windecker-Nelson has been an advocate for Mother Mentors as a valuable first step in making sure a child is ready for school as she believes parents are a child’s first and most important teachers.

The speakers at the breakfast included the testimony of a volunteer mentor and a mom. They reminded everyone that raising children can be exhausting and frustrating, especially when isolated and living away from family and friends. Donations allow Mother Mentors to pay for infrastructure and training costs and take the next steps to apply for grants to support staffing costs.

Mother Mentors hopes to expand to North Whidbey once sufficient funds are raised to hire a part-time staff person. More volunteers are needed as well. Once resources are available, new moms and anyone raising young children island-wide will have access to a person who has gone through the same ups and downs that all parents experience. Mother Mentors’ services are free of charge to any parent or caregiver of young children.

The next training for Mother Mentors will be early fall. Volunteers are needed to support the program in other ways, such as helping with web design and support, public relations, or serving on a committee or the board.

Tax-deductible donations can be sent to P.O. Box 92, Langley, WA 98260.

Call 321-1484 or email wamothermentors@gmail.com for more information.

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