A local group of moms has taken the “Mommy Network” approach to the next level.
The Spring Shadows Moms Club (SSMC), formed in 2014, prides itself on coming together to support motherhood in every phase. This “sisterhood” emphasizes the belief that no one can mom alone.
Caroline Clay and Allison Melnar, among the original founding members, along with SSMC co-president Audrey Persch, describe their friendship through the moms club as more like “family.”
“I knew no one. (Now) I could cry about these two women (being) in my sisterhood of friends. Our group reflects our area in Spring Branch, inclusive and hardworking,” Melnar said.
The group is about organizing friendships and establishing connections with neighbors.
From the start, the group supported neighborhood schools. But when the group started to lose families and friends who moved away to seek better schools, the moms decided to explore how they could help. They began meeting with Spring Branch ISD district officials.
“We discovered what was missing was community support. We know that schools are going to perform better and do better when they know their community is behind them and that is the need that we saw was missing,” Melnar said.
Getting involved in community efforts, the women provided support through the PTA and Campus Improvement Teams.
However, it was their focus on promoting the positives in the classrooms that contributed to a positive change.
Three of the area Spring Branch ISD elementary schools made extraordinary gains in the recently released Texas Education Agency school accountability ratings. Spring Branch Elementary, jumped from a F rating to an A. Spring Oaks Middle School and Westwood Elementary, whose overall ratings were an F in 2019, scored a B rating in 2022. Spring Shadows Elementary, Terrace Elementary and Woodview Elementary improved their D rating in 2019 to a B. Pine Shadows Elementary improved their C rating to a B, as well as receiving four of the five Distinct Designations for displaying exceptional achievement.
SSMC had started to support Spring Shadows, Terrace, and Pine Shadows Elementary with drives to provide donated snacks in staff lounges.
“If I saw a mom with a stroller in a store or wherever, they were mine,” Melnar joked about her recruiting effort.
“When you work collectively you have a stronger community,” added Clay.
The organization, which started with eight members, has grown to more than 200.
“We are all moms, some working and some stay-at-home. We wanted to be a support system for all moms. We have monthly meetings, first Thursday of the month, and we encourage moms to come just as they are. You never have to explain yourself. It is about connecting. You show up and we embrace you with open arms. We get it,” Persch said.
And while the school improvements are promising, there is plenty of work ahead. The group continues to raise participation at middle schools and high schools.
Dads help. Fathers cooks for one of SSMC’s most popular events: “Breakfast With Santa.” Other family-friendly events include Trunk or Treat in the fall at Spring Woods Baptist Church and the Easter Egg Hunt in the spring. This summer the group partnered with the Shadow Oaks Civic Association for a Juluy 4 event at Knob Park. They also contributed to the Community Color Fun Run benefiting Northbrook High School and Spring Woods High School proms.
In October, the group hosts its annual School Panel meeting, where speakers from Crime Stoppers of Houston address neighborhood safety, a nutritionist provides information about healthy food options for kids and there is support for moms going through post-partum issues.
The group has continued to grow without a website or public social media page. It relies on word-of-mouth to increase awareness. Send questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
To join, residents must live north of I-10, east of Beltway 8, south of Clay and west of Blalock.
— by Jessika Leal