They say it takes a village to raise a child. And in today’s day and age, a lot of that village is found online.
With local mommy groups and blogs, a lot of parents use the Internet to help them navigate in the world of parenting.
Three years ago, Bradford West Gwillimbury stay-at-home mom Genna Colucci was looking for a local online community where she could connect with other parents.
“I needed to do something to fill the void of interacting with adults, and wanted to see if a group could be created for mothers within our community who in return needed or would be looking for support, friendship,” she explained.
So in 2016 she created the Facebook group Bradford Mammas (formerly The Mommunity) and began inviting all her Bradford mom friends to join.
As a mother of four year old twins and a one year old, Colucci knows how difficult it can be for parents to get out of the house and how costly it can be to enroll in programs and activities, especially those who have multiple children.
“Every type of activity I wanted to register for, I needed to have an extra adult and I didn’t have that luxury,” she explained.
She knew there were other parents in the Facebook group who were in similar situations as her, and she wanted to create a meetup where members could see each other in person to bond and socialize. So she approached the BWG Public Library about starting a parent-child drop-in program, free of charge.
Colucci was able to secure a room at the library for the online community to meet once a month, along with their children.
Shannon Capello, a local mother of one and soon to be two, brings her 16 month old daughter Mia to the dropins on a regular basis.
“It gives us an opportunity to meet other moms, and also helps build engagement with the kids so they can build that interaction,” she said.
Melissa Sobiepanek is a mom of two who also enjoys the drop-in program, especially for her three year old son, Logan.
“It’s good for social interaction. He has a speech impediment so it’s actually helping… Any interaction that he can get with other kids and adults is perfect for him,” she said.
Fast forward to today, and the Facebook group has nearly 1,000 members, with parents from all over Bradford and neighbouring towns who use the group for socializing, business networking and parenting advice.
In addition to the monthly dropins at the library, Colucci also organizes Mom’s Night Out events, where members get a chance to meet up every month for dinner at a local restaurant without the kids.
“Being a mom isn't easy. But it’s so amazing to see how everyone in the group has each other’s backs…and in all honesty it makes me cry,” she said about the group’s bond.
The Facebook group tries to support the women in the group who run local businesses as well. Every Wednesday, members who have a business are allowed to post in the group advertising their services or products.
Colucci took notice of the many mothers with businesses and wanted to do something to help showcase them in person. Colucci has been planning the group’s first vendor event, Bradford Mammas Event and Fashion Show, in June.
The event will feature 35 vendors and 65 small businesses who are members of the Bradford Mammas group, as well as a fashion show from a local boutique and clothing swap.
Hair and makeup for the show will be provided by Bradford Mamma member Sumayya Khan, who owns Sumayya & Co. beauty salon. Colucci is currently working hard planning for the event and is excited to give the members of the group a chance to advertise their businesses.
The event will be sponsored by local mortgage agent and Bradford Mammas member Debbie Viveiros.
“I’ve always been passionate about helping women, specifically in reaching financial stability,” said Viveiros. “It has brought me immense happiness to do it. The response has been incredible. A small thing really, but it has had a big impact on all of us.”
Colucci was humbled by Viveiros’s offer to help the group.
All proceeds from the event will be going to the Helping Hand Food Bank, and all clothing left over from the clothing swap will be donated to A Hand Up clothing room in Bradford.
The Bradford Mammas meet every second Tuesday of the month at the Bradford library in the Green Room from 10 a.m. to noon, and all parents and their children are welcome to attend.
The Bradford Mammas Event and Fashion Show will take place on Sunday, June 2 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Portuguese Cultural Centre of Bradford.