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Mothers’ Center gives moms, children a chance to connect

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Heather Monnett and Maize, 4 months old, of Temperance, left, and Holly Miller of Toledo listen during the gathering at the Mothers’ Center of Greater Toledo.

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When Stella Horace moved with her family across the Canada-United States border from Toronto to Toledo in 2012 she had to rebuild her social network. That’s where the Mothers’ Center of Greater Toledo stepped in.

New to Toledo, the mother of two and her husband did not have any friends or family here.

“The difficult part was not knowing anybody. It’s hard to introduce yourself to anybody,” she said.

Last April, she joined the Mothers’ Center, which among its numerous events has a weekly meeting on Thursdays at 9:45 a.m. at the McCord Road Christian Church, 4765 N. McCord Rd. The group was established in 1984 and is part of the national organization Mom-Mentum, which has networks nationwide.

On Thursday she was one of more than 20 moms taking part in a group discussion about things they need help with around the house, including finding a perfectly proportioned coffee table to go with a long sectional sofa. The conversation then turned to creating a group that assisted people in home projects.

Eventually the chat, guided by co-facilitator Natalie Hefner, turned into group chatter, and the hum of voices filled the room. As if by divine social order, the women naturally broke off into their own groups to socialize and chitchat about life.

“Sometimes people say, ‘Oh, it’s like a sorority,’ but it’s more sophisticated than that,” Ms. Hefner said.

The group has 45 members. Besides social gatherings, it offers a chance for children to connect. Last summer’s events included meetings at parks and places around town, including the zoo.

Generations ago, Ms. Hefner said, women generally dated, married, and had children around the same time as their peers. Moreover, they lived in the area where their family roots were established, so they had their extended families on hand to assist in child-rearing.

“Lots of our members are transplants, or they are having children at completely different ages as their friends,” Ms. Hefner said. The group has a wide age range, with a grandmother among those who have joined, she said.

Membership to the group includes a babysitting co-op and access to other break-off groups, including one for working mothers that meets monthly, and it also has outreach opportunities to volunteer or donate to local causes.

The organization invites guest speakers to talk on various topics, large and small, that affect families on a national level. It even has a lobbyist in Washington, Valerie Young, who keeps it abreast of legislation pertinent to members, Ms. Hefner said.

Toledo resident Rachael Snyder, 23, said she is the only one among her close friends who has a child.

“It’s tough. They don’t understand what it’s like being a new mom,” she said.

She said that as a stay-at-home mom, she experiences loneliness and sleep deprivation — something women at the Mothers’ Center better understand. For more information on the Mothers’ Center of Toledo, visit motherscenter.net.

Contact Natalie Trusso Cafarello at: 419-206-0356, or ntrusso@theblade.com, or on Twitter @natalietrusso.

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