While their children are different ages with varying interests and personalities, Heather Volkman, Tracy Stevens and Katy Impert all were drawn to the MOMS Club of Medford for the exact, same reason.
Wanting to make friendships and network around the most important elements of their lives — their children — they use the club as a social connection and resource for everything from doctor referrals and hand-me-downs to advice on local events and how to tackle the latest parenting struggle. In addition, they spend several days each month at kid-free events such as barbecues and movie nights.
Founded in 2000, the MOMS Club of Medford is accepting new members.
Registered under MOMS Club International (www.momsclub.org), a nonprofit with more than 2,100 clubs and 100,000 members in the United States, the MOMS Club of Medford is open to all mothers in Southern Oregon.
Membership dues cost $20 per year and include monthly meetings and a host of club activities.
In today's more transient society, in which young parents are less likely than previous generations to be surrounded by extended family, the three moms say the group of nearly 30 local moms fills a void.
Stevens, who moved to Medford from England five years ago, says the club is a great support network — especially for a family with few connections in a new country.
Donning sunscreen, hats and rubber gloves for Earth Day this year, Stevens and a dozen club members spent an afternoon cleaning up Medford's Union Park.
Stevens' 6-year-old ran happily around the park and helped pick up trash while mothers swapped stories and kept an eye on each other's kids.
"I joined to get to know people, and my kids are probably some of the oldest, but I can't imagine not staying on," says Stevens.
"It's such a great resource. When I moved to Medford, I had not lived in America or Medford, so I didn't know anyone. My neighbor had kids, and she was in the MOMS Club, and I'm so glad I found out about it.
"In England, you take your kids to school, and you stand in the schoolyard until the bell rings," she adds. "That doesn't happen over here. Your kids ride the bus, and you don't seem to get as many opportunities to meet other moms."
Volkman, who lives in Talent and joined the club three years ago, says the club has proven effective at combating the sometimes isolated existence of a stay-at-home mom. She, too, was on hand at Union Park for Earth Day with her 6-year-old son, Emery.
"We had moved here from the Midwest and just really needed a way to meet some other kids and parents, so we weren't just stuck hanging out at home all day," says Volkman.
"It's really great because you meet other families, you share baby-sitting, ask where to get good deals or what pediatrician to use. We've even pooled all the maternity clothes for when someone has another baby."
One of the "longtimers" with five years under her belt, Impert says the Earth Day cleanup was indicative of the club's focus on being part of the community and providing support for mothers and children.
"I think it's a really important connection to other moms in the community. When I moved here five and a half years ago, I hadn't been a part of a MOMS Club, but I'd heard about it and I needed to meet people, so I looked it up," says Impert.
"I made my first connections with MOMS Club the week we moved here. Daily contact with other adults is so important, and we do moms' nights out, date-night swaps, activities with other moms."
Accepting new members and always evolving to best serve the needs of local moms, the group is a great idea for mothers looking for everything from moral support and friendship to a fun pastime to share with their children, says Impert.
"We've had the same play group all these years, so our kids have grown up together, had our second kids together and just been a great support group to fellow moms," says Impert. "It's really a great group of women, and we have a lot of fun together."