Posted 2/29/12 (Wed)
By Kate Ruggles
Farmer Staff Writer
Last summer three local women, Angie Hartel, Elizabeth Holen and Valerie Kummer, came together to start a MOPS group in Watford City, without any idea where it would lead.
MOPS, which stands for Mothers of Preschoolers, is geared toward just that, from anyone who is expecting to the mother of a kindergartner. Now, after only six months, MOPS has grown past offering support to local mothers and into something much more than the three women envisioned.
Throughout the summer, anywhere from three to eight moms would get together for play dates at the park.
Then, in September, things really took off.
Before the first meeting started, 25 local moms had already registered to be part of the group. And that was just the beginning.
According to Hartel, the group has seen many new faces since their September kickoff, and added roughly eight to 10 new moms to their registry.
“There is always a different mix of women at each meeting and it seems like we see new faces every month. In fact, the first meeting in February we had five new moms, two of which had been in town less than two weeks,” states Holen.
The Watford City MOPS group has not only provided support and encouragement to local mothers of young children, but it has helped to meet a growing need in McKenzie County - helping new families find a connection in a new place.
So often, those new to the area have moved away from their family and friends and know nothing about Watford City or even western North Dakota, which makes it difficult to get involved in and become familiar with a new community.
“New moms are coming into town all the time,” Holen states. “Through MOPS, they get the chance to meet other moms in their community.”
Amanda Page, who moved to Watford City in November of 2010, states that she had a hard time meeting people when she first moved into the area.
“MOPS has really helped me get to know people and make friends,” states Page. “It’s also nice to be around other women who are at the same stage in life as I am, and to be able to have a break once in a while from my everyday mom routine.”
Melissa Harter, who moved to Watford City in October 2011 states that in addition to making friends with other moms who are going through the same things, MOPS has helped her and her husband, Michael, connect to couples in the area.
“Michael works a two-week schedule with a lot of men who are living in man camps,” states Melissa. “He knows a lot of them, but they are usually here by themselves and go home during their two weeks off, so we would not hang out with them as a family.”
According to Kummer, the growth that MOPS has witnessed can, in part, be credited to the moms themselves.
“It’s so great to see everyone taking ownership of the group,” Kummer states. “Moms tell me all the time about someone they ran into around town or at church and invited them to attend MOPS. It seems like almost every week, someone is expecting a visitor.”
Before the MOPS group started in Watford City, many area mothers drove to Williston to attend the group there. While it helped meet their need for camaraderie, it limited their ability to make friends and connect to their community.
“There is not really a high likelihood of running into someone from Williston here in Watford City,” states Holen.
In addition, the Williston moms are familiar with Williston, and therefore, share information about the Williams County area.
The fact that MOPS now has a group in Watford City not only connects local moms with local moms, but it orients them to the city in which they live.
“The moms come and share information about where they shop or which doctor they use, and they relate with each other about being new to an area,” states Kummer.
Local moms also gain information from area sources about issues specific to where they are in life.
“We’ve had people come and discuss topics from Marcia Hellandsaas’ presentation on skin care to a panel made up of local men willing to discuss mom-relevant issues from a male perspective,” states Hartel.
And, because the presenters are from the surrounding areas, they are relevant and beneficial.
“I hear the moms say that they love our topics, which aren’t just about being a better mother, or tips for dealing with infants,” Hartel states. “They are interesting and applicable to all our moms.”
One of the biggest things Hartel, Holen and Kummer have appreciated since starting MOPS has been the support they’ve received from the community, from mothers of older children saying that they wish there had been MOPS when their kids were younger, to women calling with offers to help provide childcare. The community response has been overwhelming.
“When I heard about it, I thought it was a good idea and something the community needed,” states Pam Ramage, one of the women who helps provide childcare for MOPS.
MOPS meets at the Wesleyan Church from 9 to 11 a.m. on the first and third Thursday of every month. Meetings will run until May 3. Then during the summer, MOPS will meet at the park on Thursday mornings for play dates and fellowship.
For more information about MOPS, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.