Giggles floated down the hallway at Vintage Place of El Dorado Friday, as four toddlers knocked on residents’ doors.
When an assisted living resident answered, the children and their mothers offered up large, homemade holiday ornaments, made from tissue paper, paper plates and ribbon.
The accompanying mothers were members of El Dorado’s chapter of Mothers of Preschoolers, popularly nicknamed MOPS, an international support network of women. Friday’s activity was a service project the women planned for their children to do this month.
In addition to special planned outings, the MOPS group meet from 6-7:30 p.m. the fourth Tuesday of each month at the First United Methodist Church. At the monthly meeting, free childcare is provided for their preschoolers, and snacks and a presentation keep moms entertained.
Lauren Davis, a founding El Dorado member, learned about MOPS on Facebook several years ago, and she and several friends decided to start a MOPS group in town.
“I thought, ‘What is this wonderful thing?’” Davis said. “I basically think of it as a place you can go and connect with other moms who are in similar life stages.”
First United Methodist Church serves as the group’s host church, offers volunteers for the free childcare and has helped the group get started financially. However, the group is open to moms from all walks of life, and members do not need to attend church at First United Methodist to join.
When Tracy Wilson quit teaching high school, she was looking to meet other mothers with children around her children’s ages.
“I’m not from El Dorado,” said Wilson who grew up in southeast Kansas. “I didn’t know anybody.”
She said in MOPS she has found a support system.
“It’s good to be around supportive moms,” she said. “I think that’s kind of a cool thing to share the good and the ugly — to feel comfortable that it’s OK you’re having a bad day.”
Davis and Wilson both serve on the group’s leadership team, helping to plan speakers and outings and welcome new members. To fund some of its activities, the group’s major fundraiser takes place each fall at the Walnut River Festival, where the women sell homemade food.
Each member pays an annual $25 fee to belong to the group, but the women also use some of their fundraising money to provide scholarships for women who might not have the extra cash to join.
“We want all moms to know they’re welcome,” Wilson said.
To join El Dorado MOPS, contact the women HERE via Facebook or call the First United Methodist Church at (316)321-6220.