August 2, 2021

New ‘Family Club of CT River Valley’ Formed in Response to National Mom’s Club’s Intransigence on Racism,

Members of the new Family Club of the Connecticut River Valley share a smile in this photo taken when they gathered on the beach with some of their children. From left to right are Maraia Ener; Charity Archbald; Danielle Kuczkowski; Rachel Kaplan; and Jolene Brant. All photos submitted.

LYME/OLD LYME/AREAWIDE — The regional Connecticut Chapter of the Moms’ Club has been around for some 12 years and during that time, has supported many women as both new and seasoned moms. Recently, however, it took the difficult decision to leave the national umbrella of Moms’ Club and break away to form the Family Club of the Connecticut River Valley (FCCRV.)

Stefanie Hill, FCCRV Administrative Vice President, explained to LymeLine that this was not a decision taken lightly, noting that there had always been times when it was easier to look the other way when it came to the national Moms Club’s messaging and policies. For example, she pointed out, “We were not allowed to meet more than once a month during evenings or weekends because we were supposed to be at home supporting our husbands.”

Hill added, “We also assumed it was just old wording, which stated that the club was only “for at-home moms,” because our own club welcomed working moms.”

Club members could live with those things, she said, but then came the summer of 2020 when a major racial reckoning surfaced in the US. Understandably, Moms Clubs all across the country started discussing their response to this situation since, Hill said, “As moms, this affects us because we are actively raising children — the next generation in our society.”

One Club Chapter in California decided to make a simple statement and promise, “We stand with all moms and pledge that racial discrimination will stop with our kids.”

The national Moms Club, however, decided not to permit use of that statement and determined, to quote Hill, that, “Somehow standing for basic human rights is “political activity.”

The national Club took things even further, saying in a nutshell that if individual Clubs did not agree with the national position, then they should leave.

And so, over 200 chapters (including the regional Connecticut chapter) and thousands of members did leave due to the national Club’s stance that race itself is political and discussions about racism should not be entertained.

The local Old Lyme-Old Saybrook Moms Club took a vote among their own members and decided unanimously to leave the national club because, in Hill’s words, “We felt strongly that we needed to hold the organization, which we were a part of, accountable. Silencing conversations about race in our homes is harmful because silence is exactly how racism has continued to be so pervasive in our country.”

She added, “While we may think we are teaching “color blindness,” we are instead ignoring the realities of both personal and systemic racism that continue to harm people of color.”

Hill continued, “As parents we have the power to change the narrative for our children – that all skin colors, religions, genders, sexual orientations, abilities, and identities are valued. We are a part of a collective society and injustice towards those other than ourselves should not be ignored.”

The new Family Club of the Connecticut Valley organizes a variety of activities during the year. Here children of members are seen exploring the riverside during one of the events.

After the decision had been taken to leave the national Club, board members from the local club took up the call to action to form a more inclusive group.

In many ways the FCCRV is similar to the previous structure, which supported moms through making connections, but now it welcomes in addition dads and anyone serving in a parent role.

The mission statement of the FCCRV is, “… to create and promote a supportive network of families in the Connecticut River Valley, emphasizing inclusivity, diversity, kindness, and community engagement, to strengthen our parenting experiences and enrich the lives of our children.”

Hill emphasized the FCCRV is not a social justice club but they will not quash conversations about race as an essential parenting issue,” but instead encourage them.

She added, “While change is never easy, adapting is necessary … Family Club is choosing not to live in the past but instead to hope for a better future for all children. There is still a movement for social justice happening in our country that can’t be ignored. And parents in our communities still need support.”

Jolene Brant of Old Lyme, president of the newly-formed club, summed up her own feelings on creating the organization, saying, “I feel like now that we have created the Family Club, friends are joining and our membership is growing.”

The FCCRV now has some 30 members and welcomes new ones from Old Lyme, Lyme, East Lyme, Waterford, Old Saybrook, Westbrook, Chester, Deep River, and Essex. Many parents in the club are new parents or have elementary aged children, but parents with children of all ages are welcome.

Events hosted by members are held during the day, on weekdays or weekends to suit the varying schedules of members but monthly “social” meetings generally take place after school or on weekends to try and accommodate the most families. Evening ‘happenings’ for adults only are typically organized once a month and range from trivia nights to dessert and drinks.

One of the Club’s service activities was preparing flowers for the residents of Essex Meadows.

The Club plans two to four service projects a year to participate in the local community. One of these was preparing flowers in vases to take to the residents of Essex Meadows along with examples of artwork created by members’ children.

During the month of May, the FCCRV hosted a highly successful Diaper Drive to benefit the Shoreline Soup Kitchen and Pantries. The Drive not only raised funds bit also collected over 2,000 diapers for families in need.

Looking to the future, Brant concluded on a positive note, saying, “We are making an impact in the community with our outreach efforts, we are here to make our community stronger, and we are providing families with as much support as possible. I feel like we are making a difference, and I feel a sense of accomplishment.”

Editor’s Note: Visit this link for more information about the Family Club of the Connecticut River Valley, including details of how to join.

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