Alisher Aminov

LEBANON, Pa.—


Mentor a Mother, a subgroup of the Lebanon Community Health Council, is an organization you may not have heard about before. However, this Nonprofit with a big heart seeks to serve Lebanon area mothers ages 13-25 by giving them a safe place where they can go to find the love and support they need to thrive as parents.

Established 10-years-ago by two registered nurses, Mentor A Mother seeks to support young mothers throughout the Lebanon community.

At its core, the organization strives to connect mothers throughout the county with one another to give them a place where they can have honest, safe, and open communication. They hope that with facilitation, these young women can learn from one another through being in a supportive and caring environment. 

Maria Radermacher, the Program Director for the organization, said that in recent years, the organization has begun the process of moving in a new direction structurally. Specifically, they hope to put a greater emphasis on inclusivity and accessibility for mothers who might benefit from a support group.

Maria said that, unlike a traditional support group, Mentor A Mother strives to offer educational opportunities and informational support for the women participating in the program. She said that while having time designated for open communication is a big part of the organization’s meeting structure, they ultimately hope to have a more holistic impact on the lives of their participants.

 Maria said, “There is always a certain topic that we are discussing, but we also allow time for open discussion because a lot of the girls come and want to talk about what they have been going through that month.” She said, “So we pretty much have a good balance between education as well as the open discussion and open support that they are looking for.”

The meetings, which are happening on the last Wednesday of each month between 6:00 PM-8:00 PM, are entirely walk-in welcome. Maria said that Mentor A Mother also offers childcare during the small group so that mothers can get a short break away from their children while participating.

Maria said that one of the more significant changes that Mentor A Mother has experienced in the last few years is their implementation of a small group format instead of using a program that strictly revolves around one-on-one mentoring. She said that with the changes, the group has been able to be more efficient with their work, and they have been able to extend their reach much further than they had been able to in the past.

Idaliz Colon is a mother of five who has participated in the program since June 2022. She said that she initially learned about the program through her Elect Program when her instructor referred her to Mentor A Mother.

Idaliz said that she initially attended the meetings because she didn’t have anything better to do at the time. However, ever since then, the program has dramatically affected her life in a positive way. She said what ultimately keeps her coming back and attending the meetings is the relationships she has been able to build with the women she has met in the program.

Idaliz said, “They welcomed me with open arms. Everyone is really open; it’s just a lot of moms talking to other moms about real life.”

Idaliz said that what makes the program stand out is that it emphasizes the importance of self-care, which she said she was missing in her life. She said that between taking classes, looking after her children, and keeping after the house, she rarely had any time left over for herself.

Idaliz said that the relationships she has built with people from Mentor A Mother have expanded far outside of just the monthly meetings. She said that these people have become part of her daily life, and they are friends who support her through life.

Maria emphasized that the programed is designed so that mothers can jump into the program at any time and do not have to commit to attending a series of classes. She said that the doors are open to anyone who is interested, even if they only come once or twice before leaving.

Maria said that many of the changes they have implemented came from the effect Covid-19 has had on the organization. She said that initially, the organization finished out the year before putting a pause on their meetings, which caused them to reorganize the structure of the initiative.

She said, “The need has always been there; we just changed the way we are offering that service. With Covid, we took the time to revamp/restructure our program.”

Maria said that the partnerships that Mentor A Mother has with other initiatives in the Lebanon area are critical to the work that they do. She said that the group tries to find as many resources as they can for the women that attend the meetings so that they can grow and advance in their lives.

Maria said that entering into 2023, Mentor a Mother hopes to be able to expand the number of groups that they have so they are able to work with an older demographic of women. She said that while it is essential to keep the ages of people in the meeting similar so that everyone has an easier time relating with one another, they have been asked by community members who are in an older age demographic if there are any meeting opportunities for them.

For more information about Mentor A Mother, you can view their page on the Community Health Council’s website, or you can follow them on Facebook (@MentorAMother). Additionally, as they celebrate their 10th year of operation, Mentor A Mother is planning to host a bingo event on November 12th.

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