To many, a mother symbolizes guardianship, strength, and boundless love. In Marblehead, an organized cluster of approximately 130 mothers work to bring smiles and support to their town.
The Marblehead Moms Co-op began more than three decades ago as a network of local moms who support each other, children, and families throughout Marblehead.
Co-op members oversee a number of thoughtful community projects each year, such as their “meal trains” that bring meals to new Marblehead mothers, or their Thanksgiving placemat donations, in which they organize local children to decorate placemats for senior citizens, donating the event’s proceeds to Meals on Wheels.
Marblehead Moms’ largest annual event, however, remains their Pop-Up Shop fundraiser at the Boston Yacht Club.
Each year, the fundraiser hosts more than 20 small brand vendors for a two-day festival to raise money for the Friends of Marblehead Public Schools — a non-profit that delivers grants for additional educational resources in the school district.
Last year’s Pop-Up Shop —the first since the pandemic — raised $15,000 for Friends of Marblehead Public Schools, which five-year Marblehead Mom member Bianca Olson said was the largest amount of money the co-op ever raised from a single event.
“It was really fulfilling and definitely a highlight for me personally, to put that event on. Especially after the pandemic, to see people come back out in person at an event that had been put on hold for a long time,” Olson said. “It brought this sense of community that I think people missed so much during the pandemic.”
For Olson, the co-op is not just about supporting the community, but bringing people together. She joined around six months after the birth of her first and only child, her son Van. Marblehead Moms, she said, gave her a sense of community, and her son the opportunity to make friends.
“It’s been really nice for me, particularly as a mother of an only child, to be in that community and to have opportunities for him to get to know other kids that really just make connections with moms that I wouldn’t know otherwise,” Olson said.
When the entire country seemed to be hit with a sense of cabin fever during the COVID-19 lockdowns, the Marblehead Moms produced a number of creative ways to virtually bring families together. These included virtual dance parties for the children and “ghosting” activities, where the moms would deliver holiday-themed gifts and notes to Marblehead doorsteps.
Olson said that being a new mother can be a challenging and sometimes isolating experience. One of the Marblehead Mom’s more subtle community impacts, she said, is its ability to engage with new mothers.
After meal train events, Olson said that she has had new mothers tell her that the experience of having someone they didn’t know stop by, introduce herself, and bring them a hot meal brought a sense of comfort at a difficult time.
“When you’ve never [had a child] before, there’s a lot to learn and sometimes you do feel very alone,” Olson said. “Having a group that makes you feel less alone, that provides connections with other either new mothers or mothers who have been there before, it’s an amazing thing.”
Currently, Marblehead Moms is planning this year’s Pop-Up Shop, which will take place March 31 and April 1 at the Boston Yacht Club.
While the group and the size of its events have grown significantly since Olson joined the then 80-person Marblehead Moms five years ago, she said the co-op is always looking for new mothers to join.
“I think it just really shows the strength of the Marblehead community that something like this exists, and has, and that we’ve kept it going for this many years,” Olson said. “It’s kind of one of those things, to have it be passed down from generation to generation. It’s a unique thing, it’s not like anything that I’ve heard of in other towns.”