OSWEGO, New York – Motherhood can be intimidating, especially for teen moms who often cope with limited resources and little support. For 26 years, The Pregnancy Care Center of Oswego County has been educating area residents about pregnancy matters, while providing support for parents in need.
One of the organizationâ€™s more recent programs is a teen-focused chapter of the national Mothers of Preschoolers or (MOPS), who meet bi-weekly at the Oswego Salvation Army Citadel. Participation in the two-hour program has grown over the past year, with more women joining to socialize, enjoy free childcare, and earn â€œMOPS Bucksâ€ toward the â€œpurchaseâ€ of various mom and baby items.
â€œMOPS is a Christian organization, but itâ€™s for anybody in the community. Itâ€™s all about food, fun and friendship,â€ said Helen Turley, executive director of The Pregnancy Care Center of Oswego County. â€œItâ€™s mostly about encouraging the mom. Sheâ€™s made good choices. Sheâ€™s got her baby, and we really just want to say, â€˜Way to go.â€™â€
A typical Teen MOPS gathering includes small discussion groups, games, snack time and a craft project. The entire experience can be very therapeutic for young moms, according to participant Brandy Mills, 20, of Oswego.
â€œThey give us a break from our kids and let us be ourselves,â€ said Mills, who has a 1-year-old son. â€œGetting a place to go every two weeks to relax, be happy, be yourself, and not worry about anything â€“ itâ€™s a big break from all the stress in your life. They donâ€™t judge you there. They bring you to a place thatâ€™s like heaven.â€
Teen MOPS meetings relocated to the Salvation Army Citadel in the interests of more space and privacy for participants. The renovation and remodeling of the new Salvation Army facility will better suit the needs of Teen MOPS, according to program leader Nicki Batstone.
â€œIt will be great because weâ€™ll have a kitchen and weâ€™ll be able to offer some more hands-on instruction,â€ Batstone said. â€œA lot of these girls want to learn more cooking skills.â€
The Oswego Salvation Army looks forward to concluding its citadel remodeling and expanding community services even more by strengthening partnerships with various community groups.
â€œItâ€™s nice that our building is being used, not only by us but by a number of different organizations,â€ said Salvation Army Capt. Kenneth Hayes. â€œThere are so many other organizations that offer services we donâ€™t necessarily have, but we can partner with them to provide meeting space and assistance for what they do well.â€
While the Oswego Salvation Army is currently in the midst of the â€˜I Believeâ€™ capital campaign to fund its citadel renovation, The Pregnancy Care Center is also planning a fundraiser of its own this month. Event proceeds will address the centerâ€™s ever-growing presence in the community. For instance, the Care Center is currently helping a growing share of families in crisis and single fathers in need. Turley said her organizationâ€™s future plans might include another meeting group similar to MOPS, but geared toward single fathers.
â€œItâ€™ll probably be a bit more serious,â€ she said. â€œI donâ€™t think the guys are going to want to make a craft and play a game. We recognize thereâ€™s a need there, though.â€
The Pregnancy Care Center of Oswego County exists to promote a culture of life in the community while offering hope and practical help to pregnant women and parents in crisis. For more information on volunteering, donating, or receiving services, call (315) 343-7147.
The Oswego Salvation Army is part of the International Salvation Army organization and provides food, education, services and spiritual support to the local community. For more information on receiving assistance call 342-8436 or if you would like to donate to the â€œI Believeâ€ capital campaign, call (315) 216-4161.