Left to right: Amanda Adamson, Renae Regehr and Kenzi Dirks, founders of Care for Women. Photo courtesty Care for Women

Moms build a 'village' of mentorship for postpartum moms

By  Agnieszka Ruck, Canadian Catholic News
  • March 22, 2020

VANCOUVER -- It may take a village to raise a child, but Abbotsford mom Renae Regehr recently found herself wondering: what happens when parents don’t have a village to turn to?

“After I had my third child, my mom came over and was basically a saint for helping me at home in house duties and getting my oldest to school,” said Regehr. “I had a village around me that was supporting me and I was still completely overwhelmed and healing from delivery. It was a lot to adjust to three children.”

Regehr started a Google search for postpartum support for women and was directed to medical help and resources for postpartum depression, but not much in the way of material supports or mentorship. “I thought: how do women do it without a village?”

The thought persisted in tugging at her heart. Three weeks after her son was born, she sat down, scribbled some ideas into a notebook, and then called friends Kenzi Dirks and Amanda Adamson.

Now, one-and-a-half years later, the trio has launched Care for Women, a program of free freezer meals, house cleaning and mentorship for pregnant women and new moms who have no one to lean on.

“This has really been a passion in each of our hearts for many years,” said Regehr. “We are all moms wanting to help other moms.”

Dirks was pregnant with her first child and living in London, England, when Regehr called her. She was far from family and community supports, and although she would return to B.C. to have her baby, the vision of helping new mothers “really resonated ... living overseas and without a village, thinking about what it would be like to not have any support around myself.”

Dirks had grown up in a single-parent home. Reflecting on her mother’s difficult time in raising four children alone further cemented her desire to join Regehr in creating a program. After returning to B.C. to have her baby, the women got the ball rolling on Care for Women.

Dirks wants to make sure “women are not alone during one of the hardest times of their life,” whether due to a recent move, abandonment by the father, or any other reason they find themselves without a village.

Care for Women launched in January and operates in partnership with Hope for Women, a crisis pregnancy centre with locations in Abbotsford and Langley. It’s also connecting with midwives, house cleaning and catering companies, churches and women who are willing to become volunteer mentors to new moms in their neighbourhoods.

Although the organization is not faith-based, the three women behind it are guided by a personal faith and conviction that all mothers and babies are valuable.

Hope for Women director Jared White said at a fundraiser last year that the practical help of Care for Women helps extend the life-affirming activities of his organization.

“If we are empowering women to cancel their abortion appointments, we believe we should be alongside them, helping them in every way we can: providing meals, cleaning their house, being mentors,” he said. Care for Women can help moms “after they have made a courageous choice” to give life to their children.

The program is still in its early stages, raising funds, cementing community partnerships and screening and training mentors, all while Regehr, Dirks and Adamson are raising their families, with nine children among them.

Once a sufficient number of mentors is trained, they will be paired with women in the community who are pregnant and lacking community supports.

The mentors will connect with mothers-to-be four to six weeks before the baby arrives to start a relationship, arrive at the hospital after delivery with a gift, and then provide any kind of support needed for at least the next 10 days. Three freezer meals and a cleaning service will also be provided during that period.

Dirks isn’t aware of similar programs nearby and hopes their initiative will inspire other communities.

“Wouldn’t it be exciting,” said Dirk, for society to “recognize how hard it is to become a mom (so) it just becomes second nature that, when someone is about to give birth, we as a community come alongside them?”

Women interested in becoming mentors with Care for Women can apply online at careforwomen.ca.

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