Will Park in Valparaiso was filled with pint-sized people Friday morning, zipping down slides and racing across woodchips. While the sunny day was theirs to enjoy, the day really belonged to the women who held their hands and pushed them on the swings: Moms.
Mothers of Preschoolers hosted their first “Meet and Greet” of the year at Will Park on Friday, giving long-time and new members alike a chance to mingle and enjoy the yogurt bar the church set up in the park. MOPs is one of the many ministries of Calvary Church of Valparaiso, located at 1325 Evans Avenue, and it caters to moms looking for friendship, fun and support.
“We all share in similar struggles and joys,” Cambria Breitzke, assistant director of MOPs, said. “And my kids love it, too. My oldest asks every Friday, ‘Is it a MOPs day today?’”
She has been a part of the group for three years and has a 4-year-old and 1-year-old.
“To me, it’s a place where moms can come and connect and maybe be kid-free for a couple of hours, and get some much needed ministry,” Breitzke said. “Whether it’s how to pray for your kids, or how to budget, there’s a full spectrum of programs we do. We had a fitness course last year where we focused on getting healthy and nutrition, it was great.”
Breitzke said the group has more than 90 members, and they meet twice a month on Friday’s. Beyond activities and programs for members and their kids, she said it serves as a much-needed support group. Holly Childers has a 3-year-old and a 1-year-old, with another on the way around Thanksgiving. She said whether it’s breast-feeding, trouble sleeping or disciplining kids, it’s good to share in the challenges of motherhood.
“It is great having a community of women who support you,” Childers said.
MOPs also provides meals for new moms and services members in need.
“It’s been very positive for me,” Breitzke said. “I joined when I was pregnant and it was such a neat way to connect to other moms. After I joined, I had my second, and people I didn’t know were showing up with meals and we had people praying for our family and supporting us. Beyond that, it can be hard to connect with other moms, so here it’s easy to find ‘mom friends.’”
Erin Imer had her 2-year-old, Addison, with her at the meet and greet.
“It’s great getting together with other moms, and just being in the same place in life,” Imer said.
Marlo Harding, MOPs director, said being in the group has brought wisdom and advice of the other moms into her motherhood experience.
“MOPs is a place where moms can be real,” Harding said. “Whether good or bad, this is a place for support.”