MomsBloom, building strong families – through peer support and advocacy – to successfully navigate the challenges of early motherhood.
“This is a wonderful program. Having help has been invaluable. It is amazing how having the extra support for a few hours changed my whole week.” ~Susan
It's tough to be a parent in today’s culture. Parenting expectations are set higher, while support from extended family and community is on the decline. Rising stress and decreased support create a gaping emotional void leaving new parents feeling isolated, inadequate, and depressed. The struggle to cope becomes part of the symptoms that contribute to rising divorce rates, increased child abuse, and widespread emotional stress. Individuals trying to face parenting alone often meet with failure.
MomsBloom exists to help parents find success by resetting the expectations. We seek to help parents set more realistic parenting standards. The goal is not for Mom to be Superwoman. The goal is not to be a perfect parent. The goal is to have healthy, well-adjusted moms and dads who confidently raise children using their individual skills, as well as the security found through the knowledge and support of the broader community.
MomsBloom officially launched the Flourishing Families program in February 2008 when it obtained tax-exempt status. It was developed in response to the expressed need for increased social and emotional supports in Kent County.
Sara Binkley-Tow and Angie Walters met at a local MOMS Club in Grand Rapids, Michigan when their first-born children were just a few months old. They quickly became good friends and had many discussions around the lack of social supports for new moms. After a couple years of research locally and across the country for information that addressed this issue, Sara and Angie came across an article in “Mothering” magazine about the Many Mothers program in Santa Fe, New Mexico. At the same time, Alice Christensen, came across the same article and contacted the Executive Director of Many Mothers and asked how a program like theirs could be started in the Grand Rapids area.
The executive director connected the three women to each other. They discussed their personal experiences (as parent educators, postpartum doulas and lactation specialists) and their experiences with other mothers in the community. The women confirmed the need for a program like Many Mothers in Kent County. These three women became the founding board members of MomsBloom. Flourishing Families is the first program to be offered by MomsBloom.
2006: Sara Binkley-Tow, Angie Walters and Alice Christensen begin discussions and take steps to develop MomsBloom
2007: Compelled by the grassroots mission of MomsBloom, In lieu of Christmas gifts, a local family raises $800 to help launch MomsBloom
2007: Families began being served after the first volunteer training was conducted in Sara’s home. The first group was recruited through family and friends that heard about the creation of MomsBloom.
2008: MomsBloom awarded generous start-up grants from Dyer-Ives, Steelcase and Frey Foundations
2008: The first 35 Kent County families supported
2009: After the loss of her daughter Cameron, Lesley Jeruzal, one of the first volunteers for the Flourishing Families program, felt compelled to have donations in Cameron’s name be made out to MomsBloom. This was the beginning of the Cameron’s Garden program.
2010: First staff members hired to address the rising need for services.
2014: MomsBloom’s current capacity is to serve 250 families a year, but the demand is skyrocketing. Plans are in place to grow volunteer numbers and create additional programs to provide services to a larger and more diverse number of families.
2015: The community-based doula pilot launches in Grand Rapids and Lansing is the first city outside of Kent County planning to adopt the Flourishing Families program.