Fairbanks Holds Outreach for Mothers Of Pre-Schoolers
Motherhood comes without an instruction manual. Where does a mother go to learn how to become the best she can be? For mothers of preschoolers (MOPS) in Fairbanks, Alaska, they come to The Salvation Army.
Major Deborah Greene, Fairbanks corps officer, felt a strong desire to develop an outreach program to provide support for mothers of preschool age children after listening to a radio broadcast, “Mom Sense,” produced by MOPS, International, a non-denominational ministry to mothers of preschoolers. MOPS’ purpose is to nurture every mom, meeting her distinct needs to the glory of Jesus Christ. For several years the idea kept coming to mind.
In Fairbanks, a corps with several MOPS mothers, it seemed the time was right to begin this ministry. Greene approached one of her soldiers, Mary Lee Dexter with her idea at a corps barbecue in July 1997. Dexter agreed to help charter the group. Announcements were sent to the media and visits scheduled with families who were served at The Salvation Army’s Family Services office. Within a short time, Greene and Mary Lee Dexter were ready to begin the Fairbanks MOPS ministry.
For two hours, twice a month, mothers come together to experience adult conversation and have respite from the ever demanding role of motherhood. The meeting provides a time for learning about mothering, self-image, marriage enrichment and other relevant topics. Mothers may also participate in creative projects.
Each meeting has been a time of sharing, praying and support for everyone in attendance. One MOPS mom, Debbie Ruckle, shares “As a stay at home mom it can be discouraging. MOPS gives me validation as a mother. I come home from each meeting with the feeling I am doing a service to myself and my children by staying home. I may not be receiving a paycheck, but I am making a deposit into an account from which I will draw when my children are grown and on their own.”
The MOPS ministry also encourages mothers to assume leadership in the program, including publicity, record keeping, creative activity time and hostessing. While attending a MOPS anniversary celebration another mother, Sheila, learned about a teen MOPS program and is interested in developing this in Fairbanks.
Other corps members such as Home League Secretary Dorothy Fetterman have joined the program. In September 1998, Dorothy became the Titus woman. As such, she provides an example of Christian motherhood, offering wisdom and guidance to mothers newly beginning their journey into motherhood.
Moppets, the childcare program, is more than babysitting. Children are involved in age appropriate activities and teaching about Jesus. A shortage of leadership has been a concern. A letter sent to other churches in Fairbanks resulted in one volunteer who is interested in coordinating the Moppets program. The goal is to increase the present two classroom program to four classes with a teacher and assistant in each room.
In the winter, mothers brave the down to minus 40 degree temperatures, packing babies and diaper bags to attend MOPS. One brings her four children, one a newborn, to the meetings. Two military wives travel some distance from the base outside of Fairbanks to attend. One has expressed the desire to bring her family to the corps. Many do not have a church home and we are praying that they will come to The Salvation Army services.