Moms find encouragement and support with MOPS

Julie Kelsheimer understands the isolation a young mom feels: at home all day, feeding infants, chasing toddlers, and not having adult conversation. When the Westlake mom was starting her family, she “got involved in a group for young moms, just to keep my sanity,” she says.

That group buoyed her through many long, trying days as her husband worked long hours. “Older women with grown children became mentors to me. I always said that when I was older, I would repay what those women did for me.” 

When she moved to Westlake, with kids entering their teens, she made it a priority to find ways to encourage young moms. That’s when she found Mothers of Preschoolers, or MOPS, whose Cleveland chapter meets at Providence Church in Avon.

Every other Monday, Kelsheimer and 70 ladies filter into Providence amid smells of quiche, homemade bread, and coffee.

“There will be moms laughing and moms who are still wiping away the tears from something she was able to vent about,” says Stephanie Betz, head of MOPS at Providence, describing the usual scene at a MOPS meeting. “Moms carry many burdens every day, and it’s easy to feel like you are the only one.  When you share what you are struggling with and learn that you are not alone, there are tears of relief, hope, and release.”

MOPS meetings begin with socializing and then a mentor mom speaks. Afterward, moms gather around tables to discuss the topic of the day. “It’s part relationship building and part parenting advice,” Betz says. “There are moms that have high schoolers and moms who have their first newborn baby on their lap.”

MOPS is the perfect place to connect, especially for women who are new to Cleveland’s west side. As a young mom of four, Becky Lambie craved a way to connect and find support and friendship when moving to a new city. She’s been involved with MOPS in Memphis, Pittsburgh, and now Cleveland.

Why MOPS, among so many other women’s groups? “It’s the connection,” Lambie says. “You instantly have something in common with these women. It’s a place where you’re comfortable talking about your family, your challenges, your values.”

Lambie especially appreciates the Moppets program. “You can’t put a price on peace of mind,” she says, “that your children are being well cared for.”

The ties to other women are the most valuable part of MOPS for those involved. “It’s easy to feel alone in the ‘mommy’ world,” Betz says. She encourages moms who are in need of encouragement, conversation, or a break from the daily routine to look into MOPS.

MOPS reaches beyond moms at Providence. Of the 70 moms involved, only 25-30 attend church services at Providence. Betz encourages women to “sign up and try it. Motherhood stretches through all nationalities, backgrounds, ages. It doesn’t matter where you come from, how old you are, or how you grew up—moms understand moms. And it’s awesome knowing you aren’t alone!”

MOPS begins on September 20. Visit for details. Providence Church is located at 35295 Detroit Rd. in Avon.

Kim Althausen is the the Communications Director for Providence Church.

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Volume 2, Issue 17, Posted 4:37 PM, 08.12.2010