Organizers of a local group that supports mothers and their children are hoping for a reversal in declining enrolment numbers to maintain its support in the community.
The volunteer-led, non-profit St. Vital Y Neighbours group, which is based out of Morrow Gospel Church in Royalwood (755 St Anne’s Rd.), meets on Tuesday mornings at 9:30 a.m.
The group, one of a number throughout the city supported by the social and development services department of the YMCA/YWCA of Winnipeg, provides support, including childcare, for mothers with young children.
The group’s current co-leader, Sandra-Dee Beer, hopes to attract more new members as various factors have signalled a recent dip in membership.
"Our group, in particular, has had a lot of longtime members, some of whom have left in the past few months," said Beer, who lives in Sage Creek and brings two of her three kids along to the weekly group sessions.
"I think a big reason is because of an apparent decrease in the number of stay-at-home moms. We have had a few ladies join us for a few months while they’re on maternity leave, but for the most part, we haven’t connected with any moms who are home full-time and can join us consistently," she added, noting the group currently has 13 members and is set to lose around half of those in the fall when they return to work.
Beer said the group offers numerous benefits to moms, including regular guest speakers and the chance to enjoy coffee, snacks and conversation in a roundtable environment, where participants can take turns in talking about the highlights of their week.
The group also originally provided Beer with a lifeline to other mothers with young kids.
"When I first came back to Winnipeg for work reasons, I knew no one in the area. I think we were the ninth family to move into Sage Creek and the only stay-at-home mom. The group has done a lot for each of us and the goal is friendship, support and education," Beer said.
Mother-of-two Kim Perrett, the group’s co-leader, said the support and education she has received has been invaluable.
"It has been a wonderful part of my life for the past seven years," said Perrett, who lives in south St. Vital, noting the first such group in the city started in the Fort Garry area in 1958.
"I’ve met a lot of great people and learned a lot of interesting things from various speakers we’ve had. Most importantly, I’ve been so fortunate to have found a support system to help me through both highs and lows in my life. I always know I can count on the support of the girls in the group. We are there to lift each other up."
Group member Tracey Matchett said being in the group has helped mitigate the feeling of isolation.
"I love it. It gets you around other women, so you can talk about your issues. It’s a fun morning and a good way of preventing feelings of isolation or loneliness at home," Matchett said.
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