Local Expert: HRP Mamas and its network of neighborhood mothers

In a time of crisis, there are more than a few local people who can help us navigate the new normal. “Local Expert” will be tweaked for that purpose over the next weeks, or until we can all go back to the real normal.

Many neighbors have written to say that staying connected is the only thing helping them through this experience. This is HRP Mamas‘ stock in trade. Anna Grossman first started connecting people in 2004, with an email group among friends who were also young mothers. By the end of that year it was a Yahoo! group of 40 local moms sharing resources and ideas for raising kids downtown. Now, with 3000 members, it does the same thing writ large. It’s always been a digital enterprise, and now, during this crisis, it’s even more so. (Obviously the picture above is before the days of social distancing…)

The formerly in-person support groups, workshops and speaker events are moving online to a live video format on Zoom. All educational events will continue to be open to all by registration, and either free or low cost.

“The online community is robust and mamas are using it to help each other as always,” said Anna. “Isolation can be rough as is for expectant/new moms or new-to-the-neighborhood moms – social distancing (while 100% needed ) – has the potential to exacerbate that isolation. So, we are all hands on deck over here to ensure that no mama feel alone right now.”

In reaction to the virus outbreak, the group has made all its family-related resource lists open to the public, including a new set of links with expertise on COVID-19.

There are workshops, discussion groups and classifieds, and there are subgroups within the community for women who are due or gave birth in the same year and quarter, for example 2020q1, 2020q2, etc. And then there are additional subgroups divided by affinity:

  • for languages and culture;
  • for single mothers, single mothers by choice, step mothers, LGBTQ Mamas;
  • for specific support with allergies, early intervention, special needs, ASD;
  • for specific interests such as women’s rights, environmental issues, knitting, group sports, weight loss.
  • “We even have a group for mamas who have dogs.”

Workshops include new mom support groups, breastfeeding support groups, and special guest speakers via live web video group conferencing — most of which is not new to the coronavirus outbreak era. “It’s essentially what we always do – but anything that used to be in person is now via live group video web chat.”

“It worries us to think about the stress, isolation and more these moms may be feeling,” said Anna. “Those are all risk factors for postpartum depression. This is the core of our mission and we just don’t want anyone falling through the cracks and feeling isolated and not being able to normalize their stress. We are in this together. We want to help!”