Five years ago, when Rochelle Goldberg was about to be a new mother herself, she used her background in event-planning to start a group for women with newborns. Today, Goldberg has three children and the Fairfax resident's New Moms Lunch Group is going strong, with weekly lunches and speakers such as Leslie Morgan Steiner, author of "Mommy Wars." Recently, Goldberg sat down and answered a few questions about the group and about herself.
How long have you been in the area? I moved to the Fairfax area in 2000. My husband and I bought a townhouse over in near Chantilly, near the Greenbriar area. We now live in Fairfax City, and we’ve been here for 2 1/2 years in the city.
Family: I have a 5-and-a-half-year-old daughter, Molly, and I have twin boys, who will be 4 in January. So, I had three kids in 21 months, which was a lot to handle. They’re great. They’re all in preschool and having a great time. My husband and I have been married since October ’99, seven years.
Education: I went to Rutgers College in New Jersey for undergrad, and then came down and went to American University for a master’s in public administration. I got a certificate in event management from the George Washington University.
What led you down the study path of event management? I was working on the Hill, I worked for a congressman from New Jersey for almost five years, and then worked for a senator for a year. And what I did for them was office management, planning, scheduling their lives. And that’s what I found I was good at and really liked doing ... so I found out about the program at GW, applied and went, and while I was doing that program started my business, which was Event Builders. When I was pregnant with my daughter and still working at APA, my husband’s cousin who lived in New York City had just had a child. She attended this New Mom’s Group there and said, “You know, you could totally do this.” And so I did.
What was it like getting the group off the ground? It was hard because it took a lot of pounding the pavement, a lot of calling people to say, “Will you be my speaker? This is the group that I’m starting,” and a lot of trying to get the word out to new moms ... but it was exciting. It was really exciting to start something and to have the response that I did. The first lunch only had two or three attendees, but it grew quickly after that.
What makes the New Mom’s Group important to the area? It does a lot of things for the moms. It gives them a network of other moms in the general Northern Virginia area. Most of the women that come are coming from a career path. They decided they were going to have children, and they worked until the day before they gave birth, they gave birth and all of a sudden they’re home and don’t necessarily have a lot of friends who are at the same point. Maybe they have some friends in their neighborhood but now they have to go out and meet other moms ... one of the things we do is we have a private room in the restaurant, so we’re not disturbing other patrons if a mom is nursing or a baby gets fussy. But mom still gets a chance to get out and not eat the leftovers from dinner the night before every day of the week. It’s a way of “Look, I can really do this. I don’t have to pack the entire house into my diaper bag, I can actually come out and do this.” The most important thing is that it gives them additional resources and information. You can search the ‘net all day, but you don’t know what is good information and what is bad information. And this way they get a chance to meet an expert on any given topic, and talk to them one-on-one or in a small group setting and get their questions answered.
Have you learned anything yourself through the group? I’ve learned a ton from the speakers, from the other moms. It’s been fabulous. And I don’t get tired of hearing the topics. Generally I try to do each topic two or three times a year.
What’s your favorite place to hang out in the community? I love sushi, so any sushi restaurant is probably my favorite place. My kids love the playgrounds all over Fairfax County so on nice days we love to hit a new playground. Burke Lake Park, Ratcliffe Park. The lunches right now are at Sweet Life Café, and I love that place. It’s a great place just to go sit on the porch, so that would be one of my favorite places.
Community concerns? I like that Fairfax City had the Task Force on Families and Children, and I think I would like to see more done with that. I don’t even know if they are doing anything more with it, but I thought that was a great idea, the outreach to kids. I enjoy being with little kids, I’ve got three of my own. I feel like doing all we can do for kids in the community is really important, so doing whatever can be done: improving parks, improving education, anything dealing with the kids.
If you could go on a road trip anywhere right now, where would you go? I would probably rent an RV and travel across the country. I have not seen most of the United States. I’ve seen most of the East Coast, but aside from the East Coast I’ve seen almost nothing.
Advice for new moms: Get out of the house. Absolutely get out of the house, go do things, network with other moms. Come to my lunch group. Get out and do the things that you want to do, even though you think you can’t you really can. It’s so important to stay physically and mentally healthy for you and your husband and your child.
What was the last book you read or the last movie you watched? The last book I finished was “Bel Canto” which was a very good book. I like to read a variety of books, I’ll pick up just about anything. The last movie I saw was “Borat.” I saw it last weekend. It was funny, but I have mixed feelings. I think my husband liked it better than I did. It’s not so much a chick flick.
Activities/interests/hobbies: I do a lot with my synagogue. Right now, I am president of our preschool board of directors, which is our synagogue preschool. I’m the treasurer for our sisterhood and there’s a lot of little things I do with the synagogue. A lot of what I do is with my kids, taking them to a class or taking them to park. I like to volunteer my time in a variety of ways. I would love to do some more event planning, which because of having small kids I haven’t had the chance to do so much of lately, so I’d really like to get out and do more with that.
Personal goals: I’d love to grow my business, I’d love for that to take off. I think I’d like to enter the work force again, either part-time work or full-time, depending on what my schedule allows. As much as I enjoy what I’m doing, spending all this time volunteering and being with my kids, there is something to be said for going back to work.
— Lea Mae Rice