By Ashlee Oakley

Samantha Skura and Jenna Kellerman are two mommas on a mission. They are in their first year of running the local group for MOPS (Mothers of Pre-Schoolers), an international Christian organization that helps mothers of young children feel as though they have value and caring companions, beyond the day-to-day of parenting young children.

Kellerman states, “We meet once a month, and we have ‘mentor moms’ who are background-checked that provide volunteer childcare while the mothers group watches a video, does crafts, and just chats.”

Skura adds, “It’s time with other people in our situation. We can commiserate together if we need to, we can celebrate together, or laugh, or cry— all of those vast emotions that you tend to have when you’re mothering small children. At our first meeting as leaders in September, we had 10 moms, and about three million kids!” she laughs.

The provided program for children is called “Moppets,” where they may learn new songs, games, have snacks, do crafts, or watch movies. Skura also notes that they have a homeschool curriculum that may be taken advantage of. As they progress forward in their new venture, Kellerman states, “We have discussed field trips to the zoo and such. Something like that may feel impossible alone, but in a group seems a lot more manageable!”

When asked how one would feel coming into their group as a secular mother, they were very welcoming. Kellerman expresses, “I would hope that if someone wanted to come for the companionship, and happened to be non-religious, that they would still feel comfortable coming into our meetings. We certainly don’t make it a qualification to be Christian; however, I would say that because MOPS is a Christian organization held in a church— yes, we do have Christian-oriented videos and talks.”

Skura adds,  “I truly hope anyone would feel comfortable, regardless of whether you’re a believer or not— if you don’t believe in any of the religious parts, that is totally fine. You’re still a human being, you’re still a mom, and you’re still working through this right along with us.”

The ladies truly believe that personal belief is not in itself a reason to refrain from joining them, as long as you are comfortable hearing about their values- and they are more than willing to discuss yours as well. Skura continues, “We don’t shy away from those topics, but we don’t ‘shove religion down your throat’, so to speak. MOPS is first and foremost for mothers to talk to each other and find fellowship within their community with specific focus on being a mother to young children.”

As for how they feel MOPS affects the community in a positive way, Skura admits, “I joined MOPS out of pure necessity— my son was four months old, and I was starving for human interaction. I felt cooped up, with nowhere to go. So I personally know MOPS impacts the community positively, because you’re pulling those people who may feel stuck, alone, or isolated, together. You don’t have to feel that way.”

Kellerman adds, “Instead of us just being moms at our own houses, feeling like the only people we see are our children, we’ve taken initiative to continue to grow a welcoming community. We look forward to getting together. It just feels like a breath of fresh air.” They also believe confident and strong moms raise confident and strong children, so when you feel like your needs are met as a mother, you’re able to put more positive energy into your children.

While you are not obligated, they note that you have the option of signing up for membership to MOPS for $24.95 per year. She says, “In the membership package, you get a starter kit, a book, a bracelet, and some other inspirational items, as well as a quarterly magazine called ‘Hello, Dearest’ to help further encouragement. When people choose membership, the benefit to the group is that it registers our MOPS as an active group— but certainly it’s a personal choice.” Otherwise, there are no dues or fees to join or participate in group activities.

On the internationality of the group as a whole, Kellerman notes, “Since we just started, I believe there are things that we haven’t necessarily taken advantage of yet. In our starter kit, they supply coaches for you, there is a website, and you can follow them on Facebook and Instagram. But I think that since we’re such a small group at this time, we are focusing more locally than globally.”

Skura says, “I enjoy ‘small-town’, I like our community; it may be that we are more focused on right here, for now, and that perhaps in the future we would be more internationally-minded.”

The ladies would like to add that they don’t think women realize how important it is to have mom-friends until you’re already overwhelmed, and already feeling isolated. They are welcoming to anyone that is feeling lonely in the midst of motherhood, and are both adamant that they have absolutely no intention of being “clique-y.” Every single mom is welcome to the fellowship received when you go to MOPS.

Their next meeting is Monday, Oct.17 at 10 a.m., and this month’s topic is “Friendship”. They would love to see an increase in participation and companionship, as well as moms getting a well-deserved break! If you are interested in joining MOPS, or have any questions, you may call Samantha Skura at 880-4943, or Jenna Kellerman at 697-2965, or just stop in on Monday morning to join this welcoming community of mom-friends.