Every mom needs a night out, and thanks to some generous volunteers, Family Care moms at Texas Baptist Children's Home are getting their chance, some for the first time.
“It’s amazing what something so simple can do for these moms,” said Jennie Stuckert, a Family Life Coordinator in one of the Family Care cottages. “It’s especially critical for moms who are working and going to school. They need a little time away.”
Thanks to Austin Stone Church volunteers who babysit for children in the Family Care Program, some moms are able to step out once a month with their Coordinators. Family Life Coordinator Verness Gregory’s moms have had the opportunity to venture out twice and she says the benefits went even beyond just relaxation.
“The ladies really let their guard down,” she said. “They opened up and we really bonded on a much deeper level. I have one mom who isn’t from here. She has no family, no friends, no connections for child care whatsoever. So, getting out was a real treat for her.”
Moms who enter Family Care are often fleeing abuse, financial hardship or even homelessness. Family Care provides a residential care setting where moms can stay with their children while getting a fresh start and receiving job training, college assistance, and counseling. Many come in with few possessions and even less trust of others.
“They often seclude themselves from the other ladies and even me,” Verness said. “Nights like the ones we’ve been blessed to have help them realize they are not alone, that there are other women in their own cottage struggling with the same issues.”
Austin Stone Church volunteers consist of mainly expectant couples or newlyweds who are eager to spend time with the children. And that, Verness admits, is another added advantage.
“Believe it or not, kids sometimes need a break from their parent, too,” she said. “It’s a wonderful thing for everyone involved.”
But, even the most wonderful blessings can have a downside. In this case, it’s simply that there aren’t enough volunteers to go around. While Verness's cottage has had two outings so far, there are other Family Care cottages who have yet to have a Moms’ Night Out.
“This is a wonderful opportunity for a volunteer group to truly be the hands and feet of Jesus,” said Brenda Gilbert, TBCH Volunteer Coordinator. “One night of the month, you could be a blessing to a struggling mother and her children. And, it’s also a great way to understand the ministry from the inside out.”
Volunteers are screened prior to having contact with clients to ensure safety, and each group is encouraged to take a quick tour of the program before committing.
For Coordinators like Jennie who are eagerly awaiting their group outing, a team of volunteers would be like visiting angels.
“Not only are we eager to bond with the ladies, but we in the program welcome this chance for volunteers to get to know us a little better,” she said. “It would be a tremendous blessing to us.”
Groups interested in volunteering for a once-monthly Moms’ Nights Out can contact Brenda Gilbert, Volunteer Coordinator, at 246-4244.