Facebook moms group a hit in several towns
Thursday, February 7, 2013
Everyone knows how much the Internet and social networking have changed our lives, and that might explain how a group of local moms is experiencing a new sense of community that would have been impossible just a few short years ago.
They are able to turn to one another for help finding a dentist, a plumber, a new home for an outgrown holiday outfit, and advice on everything from Lyme disease to sledding safety.
Debbie Ellis, a mother of two elementary school-aged daughters, began a Facebook group on Nov. 30 called Moms in Bedford, Amherst, Merrimack, Milford, and Manchester as a way to connect with other local moms. She invited a handful of friends, who then invited their friends, and within two weeks, membership had climbed to 396. Now, there are 405 members.
Ellis was moderator of a Bedford Moms Yahoo group, but updates from that listserv arrived via daily digests, and participation seemed to drop as people switched to Facebook and more instantaneous ways of communication. Add to that the recent folding of the Newcomers and Neighbors Club, and Ellis felt she could help fill a void.
“I was president of the Moms Club seven years ago when I moved here,” said Ellis, “but now that the kids aren’t in play groups anymore this is a way to connect. I live in a nice neighborhood but it’s nice to get out beyond that. Our kids all end up in the same schools, but how else do you meet people these days? I wanted to open it up beyond Bedford so we can connect outside our little town, and now we have different people virtually meeting each other.”
Because she works from home, Ellis calls this group her “water cooler moment” and said she enjoys the camaraderie. The group’s status is “Secret” but membership is not exclusive; all that is needed is an invitation from a current member. Negativity is not allowed, and thus far has not been an issue.
When Ellis posed a question on Dec. 17 wondering if she was the only one who hadn’t sent out Christmas cards yet, responses from more than two dozen people poured in. Some were in the process of posing for photos, some were partially done, and others indicated they were sending electronic cards or none at all. No one was criticized for their choices, and there were no smug postings from more organized women who had mailed their annual greetings the day after Thanksgiving.
There are several group members who are new to the area, and the group has been a valuable resource for locating medical professionals, dentists, babysitters and handymen. After receiving recommendations, Donna Figler commented, “Thanks so much everyone. I love this group – so handy!”
Many members are entrepreneurs, and this group has given them a chance to promote their own businesses among friends. Almost every new member posts an introduction, and there is an enormous range of professions represented.
Since this is not a “new mom’s” group, many members have older children and have been able to be a resource for those seeking advice on the tooth fairy, driver’s education classes, summer camp, nightmares and other concerns that have come up.
Another fringe benefit has been the chance to easily find new homes for things you no longer need. Recently traded/donated items include a Kitchen Aid meat grinder, a doll crib, and a girl’s red coat – just in time for holiday wearing.
Jennifer Dickson, a member of the original Yahoo group, hosts a cookie swap every December and opened that up to the new Facebook group. She was happy to have about 15 guests at her home for the event.
“It’s nice having it on the Facebook feed,” she said, adding that she finds the group useful. “I found someone to fix my stove and I’ve been able to recommend a dentist I really like. I think it’s really helpful, especially for someone who is new in town. You get varying opinions ... do research ... it gives a starting place to look.”
The first snowfall brought inquiries about snowshoeing – equipment, trails, etc. Plans were made, and whoever could join that day ventured out. The snow also led to another discussion of whether children should wear helmets while sledding. These are the nagging questions that might be on our minds but we don’t necessarily mention them.
On Nov. 30, Ellis posted her vision for the group: “a safe place to share your ups, your downs, new things, old things in a respectful manner. We are all moms and have many hats we wear every day. We are more alike than we are different and let’s create a really cool community of positive people supporting one another!”
If numbers, conversations, and social outings are any indication, then she is certainly fulfilling that vision.