“Once we learn how to support women, we change everything.”
-Bridget Todd-Robbins, System of Care Administrator
In 2018, Laura Ling’s powerful message at the Women’s Fund Fall Luncheon inspired a small group of mothers to create an opportunity to empower other mothers in their community.
Toya Reynolds was one of the moms behind the idea of a group for mothers who could meet to discuss life and grow together. Within one month, Southside Moms United held their first meeting.
As a single mother, Toya has experienced the stresses of managing a household and raising five children on her own. Toya wanted to show other mothers that they don’t have to go through challenges alone. For many of the mothers, being a part of this group was the first time someone asked to hear their voice.
Ashley Wire is one of 15 mothers who attends Moms United every month.
Ashley is a single mother of six children and joined Moms United to, “have a voice and be heard, as well as work with other women who are experiencing the same trials and tribulations my children and I are facing.”
After the success of Moms United on the Southside of La Crosse, a second group was developed for the Northside of La Crosse. Both groups have distinct goals and missions that the moms developed.
Some of the goals include creating opportunities for their children, learning about resources, getting to know other mothers in La Crosse, and taking time for self-care and fun.
When revising the student code of conduct, the La Crosse School District asked for the opinions of the women in Moms United. The mothers provided feedback on the language used in the code of conduct and spent a lot of time working with the school district to have their concerns addressed.
Moms United has created hope for change and developed plans for action in the community. Due to the growth of the groups and their goals, Moms United developed subcommittees and a social media presence to share resources among mothers.
This group aims to help women develop a mindset that growth is possible. At Moms United, the mothers are encouraged to take time to prioritize themselves and pursue opportunities for personal growth through educational and career opportunities.
Last month, the mothers toured Western Technical College seeking resources and opportunities for themselves and their children.
Ashley is currently enrolled in a Human Services program at Western Technical College, and this spring Toya will graduate with a degree in Culinary Management.
Many of the mothers at Moms United are using this group to be a role model for their children, who are starting to recognize how important it is for their mom to be part of a community group.
Moms United was piloted by the La Crosse System of Care in 2018 for mothers living in the Washburn/Poage neighborhoods. The La Crosse System of Care provides a meal and childcare for monthly meetings to eliminate barriers to participation.