Every other Wednesday, the auditorium at KIPP Kirkpatrick Elementary School transforms into a living room. The kind of living room filled with laughter, coffee and stories.
Kayla Meece, who has two children attending KIPP Kirkpatrick, puts it this way, “I don’t think I’d be hanging out with these women the way I do without Moms’ Club. I might say ‘hi’ in the hallway or something like that, but to hang out how we hang out, it probably wouldn’t have happened.”
KIPP Kirkpatrick Moms’ Club is where Moms—and sometimes a few Dads—get together and connect.
It’s a safe space for the silly and the sometimes more serious conversations.
“One of my goals when I started this work was to be able to put families and Moms and Dads in the position to help each other,” said Elizabeth White, KIPP Kirkpatrick’s Family and Community Engagement Specialist. “I was hoping to set this up so our parents could be each other’s resources and each other’s answer to questions and each other’s friends. It’s been really neat to see that happen.”
When they get together, the group works on a craft. Sometimes, it’s something to take home, like the coffee mugs they’re decorating at this meeting. Other times, their efforts are used to beautify the school, like painting water color quotes and hanging them in the hallways for Black History Month.
“Honestly, it’s taught me a lot of patience,” explains Jalessa Fuqua, Mom of a Kindergartner, “The different activities we do teach you a lot about yourself.”
Fuqua begins laughing, as she remembers, “We made these candle jars last year that were so frustrating. We all remember those. But, it was a good moment to practice taking a step back, even over doing a craft project.”
The KIPP Kirkpatrick Moms’ Club—which has about 15 members who regularly attend—also includes three women from Christ Presbyterian Church in Brentwood.
White, a member, explains, “About two years ago, I’d been talking to some women at our church, brainstorming about how I could plug people who live on the other side of town in with people who live on this side of town and get each of those groups of people to get to know one another. My goal was to find a way to do that through KIPP Kirkpatrick. I thought about how many times Moms at school want to be here and want to help by volunteering, and all of those ideas just kind of percolated in my head. That’s how Moms’ Club began.”
Emily DeVree, a member of Christ Presbyterian Church and a Moms’ Club regular, says, “I think motherhood is a common denominator. Our daily lives look different, but we all love our kids and we all worry about our kids. We laugh a lot and talk about the challenges and blessing of motherhood.”
Meece, who’s concentrating on decorating her coffee mug, adds, “I really enjoy it, because it gives me peace of mind, and I’ve made friends here. I only knew one of the women before I started. It’s been great, because they understand how I feel and what I’m going through.”
White notices that the relationships forged and strengthened in the auditorium have taken on a life of their own outside the building walls.
“Some of the Moms will often come to me and say ‘So and so is having a hard time. I texted her, let me know if you hear from her.’ Or, ‘I had a long talk with so and so the other day, because she’s going through some stuff’, so it’s neat to see them lean on one another and use one another.”
Since Fuqua’s daughter began Kindergarten, her six year old has taken a big interest in reading, and she’s been able to share her excitement with the Moms’ Club.
“I see her thriving and learning. She’s reading at the top of the class and recently asked me to get a library card so she can pick out her own books. Now, we go to the library at least twice a week.”
White adds, “The more and more our parents buy in to our school as a whole, whether that’s coming to Moms’ club or volunteering, the more their child benefits. Because the more they’re invested, the more they take the initiative that their child is invested. And the harder their child works, the more their child learns. I think that’s what it all leads back to. If you’re coming here and you’re invested, then you’re going to make sure your child gets where they need to go.”
From a group of essentially strangers, to a group of women who couldn’t imagine spending every other Wednesday someplace else, KIPP Kirkpatrick Moms’ Club is a place where everyone is welcomed.