They come together to pray, to play, to meet, to exercise, to serve and to create. But mostly they come together to support each other.
Members of the Good Shepherd Mothers’ Support Group find many reasons to come together, from their Wednesday meetings to their holiday events to their Monthly Mom’s Night Out.
Their mission is “to provide a casual network of support for mothers in the parish and Mount Vernon community, which enables us to grow spiritually, intellectually and socially.”
While members have come and gone, the organization itself has been around for over 20 years. The reasons that the group was started so many years ago are still very much in evidence today. The members have just become more technologically connected. About a year ago, they started weekly e-mails and now everybody knows what’s going on even if they miss their weekly meetings.
As they begin their 2002-2003 season, moderator Daisy Berlingeri- Warren is looking forward to growing their organization, both physically and developmentally. Berlingeri-Warren has been a member for just a couple of years and is already very involved. She said, “It’s been great. There’s a good mix of people and it’s challenging for me intellectually. It keeps me up to date.” She really enjoys the book group which is an adjunct of the group. Last year, Berlingeri-Warren started the Simplicity Study Group, which will meet every other Monday for the next nine weeks. Berlingeri-Warren said, “This group explores the personal and environmental benefits of simplicity; a way of living more deliberately and consciously in the world, to improve the quality of life, reduce expenses and reduce environmental impact.”
Terri Maloney has been a member for five years and was involved in the simplicity group last year. “That is a wonderful way to make closer connections with moms. It’s very specific to simplifying our lives.” She has most enjoyed the fellowship and meeting women with similar interests. “That’s what it’s all about — developing friendships,” she said.
Maloney coordinates the Meals for Moms programs; an outreach program where the group prepares meals for moms with new babies or with other needs.
“So many moms say that it’s such a wonderful thing; the meals are so appreciated.” The group was very busy last year; 14 babies were born to mothers in the group — an unbelievable year.
THE MOTHER’S GROUP has a full schedule of events from now until the spring. Meetings are held at Good Shepherd Catholic Church, but all moms are welcome to join, even if you’re not a parishioner, contact the church at 703-780-4055 for more information.
The group meets every Wednesday from 9:45 to 11 a.m. and often features speakers on topics ranging from financial planning to healthy eating. This week, one of their own members, Vicki Gravini, gave a demonstration on sewing. Berlingeri-Warren said that this will help get her back into sewing, something she hasn’t done for awhile.
Earlier in the month, Delegate Kris Amundson, D-44, was invited to present ideas on how to get more public involvement. Berlingeri-Warren said, “She sees involvement as a citizen’s responsibility; for her it began when her daughter, Sarah, (now in college), began elementary school. Some of the recommendations she made were to participate; keep informed of what’s happening in the community by reading the local newspapers; participate in activities that families can do together such as walks for a cause; enlist your children to participate by looking for opportunities to volunteer with children; and finally — vote and encourage others to vote.”
Soraya Bambha, co-moderator of the group, said, “She was very interesting. It was nice to hear how you can get involved and interesting to hear how Kris got started.”
Bambha joined the group last year and said, “I like getting together with other mothers. I like the outlet.” She said that she also likes the fact that there’s no pressure to come to meetings. “Moms come and go as they need it,” said Bambha.
THERESA KNIGHT HAS BEEN a member of the group for seven years; she started when her first child was six months old and now has three children.
“I originally joined the group so there would be at least one morning a week where I was sure to get out of my jammies before noon. I also missed having conversations with adults,” said Knight. “Over the years my reasons for attending shifted as I found lasting friendships. I have met my best friends through the mom’s group.”
As Knight’s children have gotten older, she has become more involved in their school, so she doesn’t attend as regularly as she used to, but she does still keep in touch.
“The friends I have made from the group are invaluable. I know I can always go back and feel connected and uplifted. One of the best things about the group is that we are all in the same boat. When we take part in different moms' group activities throughout the year, brunches, picnics, etc., we don't put pressure on ourselves to do any more than we can handle. We understand how hard it is with young children to get anything done.”
In addition to the weekly meetings, there are many special events as well. A Nativity Breakfast is scheduled for December 14 at the church and is open to the public. The group sponsors a fall and spring rummage sale and has a Mom’s Night Out once a month.
“We have fun at those, it’s a chance for us to dress up,” said Berlingeri-Warren.
Once a year, they have a Couples Night Out and they have a Moms Brunch periodically. An exercise group was recently started by one of the members.
“It’s a lot to coordinate, but people are so willing to help,” said Berlingeri-Warren.