Mother Mentors was founded by a group of local mothers and grandmothers who knew all about the joys and challenges of raising young children. Inspired by a group from Santa Fe, New Mexico, Mother Mentors started to build relationships with local parents of young children and offered to lend a helping hand to these families in their own homes. We started by just helping families with newborn infants, but quickly realized that in our semi-rural setting, anyone with children under the age of five could really use the help. In addition, we also began to realize that although we are on an island, it is a very BIG island and home to three distinct communities. We began to realize that if we were serious about making a positive difference in the lives of local families, we needed to reach out to all three communities and particularly the largest town on the island, the military community of Oak Harbor.
Different from traditional home visiting models that offer a particular type of parent coaching, Mother Mentors home visiting is intentionally open ended and relationship based. Our goal is to help parents and caregivers of young children in whatever way they need it most on any given day.
Since its inception in 2009, Mother Mentors has offered in-home support to more than 175 families and 275 children. At Playscape, we serve approximately 300 families with over 400 children island-wide each year.
- Mother Mentors started with an appeal by Kristin Lasher in the local newspaper. Seeking to prevent isolation and promote healthy families, Mother Mentors was born. A small but enthusiastic group of five mothers and grandmothers met to discuss how to connect with and support parents of young children.
- Mother Mentors began mentoring families and served five families during the year.
- Mother Mentors affiliated with Island County Readiness to Learn Foundation, who also served as its fiscal agent.
- Mother Mentors of Whidbey Island incorporated as an independent non-profit, tax-exempt organization within Washington State (E.I.N. #45-5323148)
- First fundraiser (raised $10,000 plus $4,000 from Board contributions)
- Playscape play and learn program became part of Mother Mentors and was offered initially twice a week in Langley, Washington.
- Part-time grant writer and website coordinator hired.
- First two grants received and part-time Director hired at 20 hours per week.
- Playscape expands to three days a week.
- Mentoring program extends to the north end of Whidbey Island in Coupeville and Oak Harbor.
- Director’s time increases to 30 hours per week.
- Mentoring program continues to grow.
- Playscape program expands to Oak Harbor to offer a second play and learn location.
- A second Playscape Facilitator is hired.
- A third Playscape location is opened at Whidbey Presbyterian Church in Oak Harbor.
- Four Playscape groups are now offered in Oak Harbor on two different days, including a group just for parents with infants.
- A film about Mother Mentors is made by Thriving Communities to highlight the extraordinary work being done by ordinary people in our communities.
- Playscape is chosen to host two Kaleidoscope Play and Learn Open Houses to educate policy makers and the public about the importance of intentional play as a learning tool for growing healthy families.
- A part-time Early Learning and Family Support Coordinator is hired.
- An infant support group is added at Playscape South.
- Playscape is now offered three days a week in Oak Harbor and in Langley.