One year after COVID-19 breached Albany County’s borders, a new nonprofit for mothers was born. The club, known simply as “Mom Club” offers mothers of all stages, a safe and supportive space to talk about all things related to motherhood.
Founded by Anna Cramer — a cabin coordinator at Cathedral Home for Children and mother of two — Mom Club offers a variety of different services including monthly “Pregnancy 101” classes, postpartum depression/anxiety groups; wine nights and game nights; yoga classes, and park trips. There is also a pregnancy loss support group that meets biweekly with which Cramer coordinates through a separate outlet.
“I just want to offer a service,” Cramer said.
She explained how important it is for her to meet women of the community wherever they are during their journey and help provide relief where it’s needed. This led Cramer to organize the club as a nonprofit; so women wouldn’t have to worry about paying dues or membership fees.
“I’ve always envisioned this as just something where women can come and not worry about anything,” Cramer said.
HOW IT STARTED
It was six weeks after Cramer’s first child was born in February 2019 that she started experiencing serious post-partum depression (PPD) symptoms. She described her depression as a cold and snowy trudge through exhaustion, coffee and wine. She said there were times when she would emotionally retreat— some times for days.
“I just noticed I had been pretty angry a lot,” Cramer said, “I was a lonely, depressed mom and wanted to hang out with other moms.”
Cramer started traditional methods of treatment (therapy and medication), which helped, but all she wanted was a network of women who were experiencing or had already experienced pregnancy, birth and post-partum insecurities.
“You’re just thrown into this world and you don’t know if you’re doing anything right,” Cramer said, and she wanted an opportunity to talk openly and freely with other moms for advice and support.
Cramer decided to invite several women to her home for a tea party so she could make connections and feel less alone as a new mom. It was one of the most fulfilling things she’d ever done, Cramer said, and despite the blistering cold winter season, the tea party was a success.
Katrina Harnisch has been an active participant in the club since its inception. She attended the tea party and recounted how nervous she was initially.
“I was very nervous to meet moms and be judged,” Harnisch said, “But when it comes down to it, the moms in the group just want to feel supported and support other moms.”
Harnisch was pregnant when she joined Mom Club and said she was happy to have found a group of supportive women she could comfortably confide in, ask questions or express concerns to.
During the tea party, they engaged in an open dialogue about PPD, breastfeeding and baby sleep techniques or remedies. But most importantly, everyone, including Harnisch, had an opportunity to express how they were feeling either physically or emotionally.
From then on, Cramer organized a web platform and put together a few other Mom Club hang-out events, sending hundreds of invitations to moms via Facebook. In her words, it didn’t take long for the events to gain traction: moms would join an event or online chat and then invite others to join.
It blossomed into a virtual space where moms in all stages of motherhood could ask questions and provide support, whether it was giving advice on how to get your toddler to brush their teeth to sharing words of consolation for a grieving mother.
Although Cramer has been able to temporarily secure a room at the Ranger Bar and Liquor store, she has recently started looking for a larger, homier, more permanent location.
“I want it to feel like you’re walking into your grandma’s house where it just feels good,” Cramer said.
Ideally, a house with a full kitchen, backyard and porch would crystalize her visions for Mom Club and provide a larger space for a variety of different events, groups and classes. It’s also her hope to offer similar support groups and hang-out events for dads.
The permanent location is still quite a way into the future, she said, but for now she is enjoying connecting the community’s moms with local services. This month, Cramer has scheduled a few special guest speakers, including Laramie-based Shannon Sweeney, certified doula and a WIC (Women, Infants and Children program) presentation on breastfeeding.
Cramer said she has also been receiving a lot of feedback from women in neighboring communities such as Cheyenne and Casper.
“We started in Laramie, but Wyoming moms need everything that Laramie moms need too,” Cramer said. She added eventually she’d like to expand to those communities and have hubs all over the state. But for now she is focusing on meeting the needs of the women in Laramie.
Both Harnisch and Cramer agreed that motherhood can feel daunting and overwhelming at times, but it’s easier to manage when you have a community of like-minded women who can relate on some level. As Mom Club starts to flourish, Harnisch encourages moms of any stage to join.
“The only thing I want is more people to be involved,” she said, “This club isn’t for a certain type of mom. It’s inclusive, non-judgmental and a place to learn and grow.”
Mom Club became an official nonprofit in March 2021 and is completely donation-based. As things become more settled and routine, Cramer hopes to find other means of funding through grants and fundraising.
TO LEARN MORE
For more information about the club and upcoming events, visit momclubwyo.org or visit the Facebook page @MomClub18.
Donations can be made either through venmo, @momclubwyo, or by check and mailed to 463 N. Third St., #56.