So, what is this Bloom Parenting Community and how have they come to be such an important part of Children First's work? Kate Hodges, Bloom founder, sat down with our SafeCare Program Coordinator, Mary Joyce, earlier this month to chat about how Bloom began. Parenting – especially in the early years – can be extremely isolating. This is true for so many of the families we work with and finding a support network is tough. Bloom was created out of an effort to connect parents with each other in the hope of creating a modern day village – a community supporting each other through chats, workshops, playdates and potlucks. What began as a phone tree then morphed into a Yahoo Group and then, ultimately, became a Facebook group with over 1500 members..
As the group grew, Bloom realized they could use their collective voice in the Athens area to both speak up for important issues and demonstrate generosity for others in need. One of the ways this generosity has been shown is through individual contributions to the SafeCare program. Bloom members have donated diapers, clothing, furniture, health kits, safety kits, car seats, baby gates, and cribs, helping families that they may never meet. For many of families, these donations have been life changing.
"I posted in the group looking for beds for a father of 6 whose children were in foster care. Within 4 hours, I had 15 responses offerubg help. Within 2 days, I had 3 beds confirmed and scheduled to move into the family's home. Those children are now visiting their father overnight and moving towards reunification - something that literally could not have happened without the help of Bloom" - Mary Joyce, SafeCare Program Coordinator
Another parenting community to check out is the Athens Black Mothers Breastfeed, a local program that works to diversify the breastfeeding support options for new mothers. One of this communities most active projects is Sisters Circle, a Facebook group similar to Bloom, but specifically for families of color.