For Leslie Stelling, becoming a member of the Hudson Area Moms Group has offered the chance to learn more about Hudson and connect with a welcoming community of mothers. “It’s brought me friendship and support, especially being new to the area,” she says. “As soon as we moved to the area, it was a place where I felt like I belonged.” While the nonprofit allows women like Stelling the opportunity to find a new community, it’s also focusing on giving back through volunteering and service projects.
The Hudson Area Moms Group was founded in 1982 as a support group for stay-at-home and working mothers alike. The organization offers social events like book clubs and nights out, kids’ activities and play groups, and leadership opportunities. Weekly meetings are held at the Hudson United Methodist Church, where members can hear from guest speakers on topics ranging from health and wellness to finance to fashion. (Although it meets at a church, the group is not religiously affiliated.)
Hudson Area Moms Group also supports members through its Helping Hands program, where volunteers deliver meals to moms who have just given birth or are recovering from surgery. Whether it’s trading parenting advice or helping each other through times of need or unexpected life events, members of the group have each other’s backs. “It’s really important [to know] that you’re not in this alone,” says Leah Knutson, a member for four years and the incoming co-president. “You can have a sense of another family. I think that’s what sets us apart.”
Indeed, many of the newer members who have joined in the past year or two find the group helps them establish a sense of home. “If I didn’t have moms group, I would feel alone, and I wouldn’t feel as much as a part of the town of Hudson as I do,” says Stelling, who has been a board member since 2015. “It’s allowed me to get out and explore things that I might not have done on my own.”
Each month brings a new service project; past volunteering opportunities have included working with Meals on Wheels, Feed My Starving Children and Better Bites St. Croix Valley. Members have donated to local parks and the library, and put together teddy bears for kids to help them calm down when they are having procedures done at the Hudson Hospital. They also donate clothes to Dress for Success, which helps women with career development by providing work attire.
Member Nikki Sansone, who leads the fundraising committee and is on the community service committee, particularly enjoys biweekly visits to Hudson Christian Community Home; she sees the dual value of setting a good example for the kids and teaching them about giving back from a young age. “We also want [our community] to be a great place for our children, so we want to do anything we can to help make it the great place that it is,” she says.
Sansone’s most memorable volunteering experience was last December, when the group went to Halos of the St. Croix Valley to assemble Little Angel healing baskets to send to local hospitals for parents who recently lost a child. “It was extremely emotional putting together those baskets, but that was one experience I’ll never forget,” Sansone says.
Hudson Area Moms Group members also engage with the community through about five fundraisers each year, which help sustain the group, as do the $40 annual membership dues.
Head West, Young Mothers
Moms’ groups aren’t a novelty, but the experiences of individuals who form a community can be. Across the river in Stillwater, for example, Marny Stebbins and Liz Westerhaus have taken a blog site and turned it into a podcast and regular column in the local newspaper.