In 2016, an unlikely group of mothers began to meet on Erie’s Lower East Side. Our goal was to learn and grow with and from one another.
We had little in common on the surface. Black, white, married, single, homeless, homeowner, urban, suburban, GED graduate, college graduate, working, stay-at-home—we could list our differences for days, but every one of us was committed to our families and we all believed that the health and well-being of local mothers was critical to the health of Erie.
That same year, we launched Erie City Moms
and hosted our first event at Wayne Park Baptist Church. “Moms Night Out” was free and included dinner, childcare, a woman’s story of hope and healing, community resources and prayer. As word spread, women from across the city and county overcame great obstacles to connect with us. I clearly remember one mom and her friend who walked an hour to and from Wayne Church with their five kids in tow. That is when we began offering transportation to families living within the city limits.
Erie City Moms’ leaders and volunteers were, and still are, real, honest and vulnerable, which is a refreshing alternative to the media’s “perfect” parent. They have navigated many hardships—addiction, violence, mental illness, racism and infertility to name a few. One by one, these moms shared stories of incredible strength and promise.
In 2018, Pfeiffer-Burleigh Elementary and Edison Elementary, two United Way community schools
reached out to brainstorm better ways to connect with mother figures. “Mingle with Moms”
—Erie City Moms’ school-based moms group—was soon launched in collaboration with United Way community school directors Meghan Easter and Tami Krzeszewski-Conway, respectively, and our collective volunteers and donors.
The events are modeled after Moms Night Out but instead of being open to the entire community, Mingle with Moms focuses on fostering the health of mothers and families throughout the school community and surrounding neighborhoods. This unique monthly event provides respite and support for moms, nurtures bonds between school families and with school staff and administrators in a safe, casual environment, and raises awareness about additional nearby resources and opportunities.
Until COVID-19 closed the schools in 2020, Pfeiffer-Burleigh's Mingle with Moms steadily grew to host as many as 10 moms and their kids each month. Plans are in the works to relaunch Pfeiffer-Burleigh in Fall 2022.
Edison also took a hiatus due to the pandemic and safely resumed in October 2021. Both groups flourish as parents step up to spread the word and serve as peer supports. Parents like Mykala, an Erie City Mom group member.
Even in the midst of personal trials, Mykala served in multiple leadership roles in Erie City Moms, including as parent leader and peer support. She is a beautiful example of the inspiration, power and safe, loving community found at Erie City Moms and a testament to the commitment we have to women in our sisterhood.
When I first met Mykala in 2016 she was pregnant with her second child and sleeping on couches and in her car. She graciously accepted our friendship and soon, Erie City Moms helped her settle into an apartment she could share with her infant and elementary-aged daughter. She joined our leadership team in 2018. Our leaders and mentors emotionally supported her through several job changes, encouraging her to apply for new opportunities and helping her prepare for interviews. We continued to support her as she returned to college and worked to repair her credit and build savings. Last year, Mykala bought her first home.
We were there on move-in day with gently used appliances and a few gifts to say, “Welcome Home!”
With mother figures like Mykala at the helm, Erie City Moms in partnership with United Way, are building bridges between diverse families, fostering healthy school dynamics and providing support to mother figures and kids.
Moms Night Out now hosts 100+ families the first Monday of every month in the Wayne Building. We also host special events and learning opportunities throughout the year.
Erie City Moms is currently in the process of becoming a nonprofit organization. We believe every mother figure has the power to positively impact the people and spaces in which she lives, works, serves, worships, and plays.
As mom transforms, Erie transforms.