Callaway County mothers of small children will have a new support system this fall.
Starting Sept. 24, Central Christian Church in Fulton will host a local chapter of MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers), with meetings at 6:30 p.m. on the first and third Thursdays of every month.
Chapter organizer Tara Gall, whose husband recently retired from the military, said MOPS helped her while she struggled to adapt to a new home and motherhood at the same time, and she wanted to provide that same kind of help for others.
"It was a very good experience for me as a new mother - it helped me re-acclimate to a new area and provided a support system I didn't have because my family was back here," Gall said.
Gall said one of the first things she did when moving back home after her husband's retirement was look for a local chapter of MOPS. When she discovered there wasn't one, she met with Central Christian Church Pastor Bill Nigus about the possibility of starting one.
"Pastor Bill and I decided it was something we need to do for the Callaway County community," Gall said. "It's empowering our mothers: No matter your income level or if you're married or a teen mom, it's just bringing us all together and bringing positive reinforcement.
"It's something I'm really excited about and passionate about."
According to a MOPS press release, MOPS groups "are local communities that help moms be better moms by understanding their unique needs, challenges and joys ... where moms gather to experience encouragement, support and hope."
Gall said a typical MOPS meeting consists of a lesson, discussion, mentoring and a creative segment where mothers learn something new that members have expressed an interested in, such as knitting. Mothers can also bring their children and members often coordinate to bring dinner.
"We can learn from each other," Gall said. "You have time to grow and exchange thoughts or questions, you get to learn new experiences."
Gall said the group also will do community outreach - noting she hopes to work with CARDV, Faith Maternity and the Buddy Pack program.
Although much of the program is aimed at mothers of younger children, she said membership will be open to anyone who wants to be involved.
"We also need mentor moms with kids in middle school or older that could bring a different perspective," Gall said. "Anybody who wants to be a part of it, we'll find them a place."
Membership is $24.95 per year, but Gall said she did not want finances to be a stumbling block for prospective mothers.
"I don't want that to be a reason someone doesn't join, I want them to come talk to us," she said. "I want everyone to feel welcome whether you're just curious, or are seriously interested or you want to be a mentor."
For more information about MOPS, or to get signed up for the new Callaway chapter, contact Gall at email@example.com.