Moms and tots enjoy songs, fellowship and play
by Katrina Pockett –
The Salvation Army has always placed an emphasis on helping young people reach their full potential, socially, spiritually, and academically. This has been supported in our character building programs, such as, Sunbeams, Girl Guards, and Adventure Corps. There is another program on the horizon. It is called BabySong.
BabySong is a moms and tots program that meets every Wednesday morning at the Moreno Valley Corps. On Wednesday mornings you walk into our BabySong room and you are greeted with moms sitting around in chairs talking, or on the floor playing with their little ones. You will see toddlers jumping in the mini bouncy house, or crawling through our tunnel. Some of the toddlers prefer to color, and some run for the playhouse. There are many activities that the kids take part in, but we all share singing time together. Whatever the activity, you will see a room full of happy children.
That is our goal: to see children reach their full potential in life. I believe that BabySong has been a perfect springboard to our goal. The early stages of BabySong can only be defined as grassroots. When I was commissioned as an officer in 2004, I was expecting our third child. I knew that I would have a lot on my plate between being a mom, having a new corps, and keeping a household. It was my desire to find a local playgroup. After our son was born, I looked for playgroups that would fit into my schedule and our budget. One local baby gym wanted to charge close to $100 a month for membership. I just couldn’t afford it. That is when the light bulb went on. If I was looking for a way to interact with other moms, without breaking the bank, there must be other moms out there with the same needs. That is when I came across some information about the program of BabySong. There wasn’t a lot of material, but it was enough to get me started. Luckily, I already had the facilities to meet in; I just needed to get the word out.
I placed an ad in the local paper seeking other interested moms in starting a group called BabySong. One mother responded and we met to discuss our plan of action. We decided to make business cards with all of the BabySong information on it. Then we took the kids and went shopping. That’s right…our ministry happened while we were shopping. Terri and I strolled through the local stores and every time we came upon a new mom, we would casually mention our new BabySong group. Other moms were really responsive to what we had to offer. Soon we had a solid group of women meeting for our Wednesday morning playgroup.
Our BabySong morning has a flexible schedule. We meet around ten, and the room is open for free play. The children can draw, build blocks, play house, read a book, among other activities. This gives the moms a time to chat with each other and interact with the children. The topics for the moms change every week, and range from politics and religion to parenting. After a time of free play the children will line up for a snack and then head off for clean up. It is after clean up that we begin our singing time. The kids love the classic nursery tunes. We also sing some Sunday school songs, as well. Our children leave the BabySong program tired and ready for their afternoon naps. Every last Wednesday is potluck day where we all share a meal together.
In addition to meeting as a mother’s group, we have also met up for other activities. During one of our meetings, we talked about the art of quilt making. None of the BabySong moms had ever made a quilt, and we didn’t know where to start. I called Major Lucille Youngquist for help. Major Youngquist came to our corps and offered a six week class on quiltmaking. The BabySong moms and some of the corps members joined together to make quilts. At the end of six weeks, everyone had a quilt to take home to their families.
The BabySong moms have taken complete ownership of this program. Everyone has brought items to donate to the room and everyone pitches in with a scheduled snack. The moms have also graciously volunteered at the corps for a number of events. Terri spent the week helping us for VBS. Kristy, Terri, and Jessica showed up during Christmas to help pack the toy bags. All of the women spent a morning cleaning out the room and reorganizing the toys. Kristy’s husband, who is a local firefighter, came to the corps to teach our young people about fire safety. Their contributions to our corps are endless.
BabySong started out with a group of strangers who had a common desire: to provide a safe place for our children to interact. It has morphed into a group of friends that care deeply about each other, and the community that we live in. I believe that God has a special plan for our BabySong group, and I have no doubt that we are just seeing the seedling to a fantastic ministry in The Salvation Army.