Local preschool group sees rise in membership since start of COVID-19 pandemic

The global pandemic has infiltrated every aspect of our lives, and while everyone has been impacted, some groups in particular are still finding their footing in the more than two years that covid has held Americans hostage with worry, sickness, sadness and stress.

Moms and dads have seen just about everything they know about parenting (or thought they knew) completely turned upside down. From mask-wearing to virtual family visits to constant sanitizing, air hugs, birthday parades, vaccine rollouts and remote learning, this is one segment of the population that saw real shake-up in the everyday rigmarole of raising a family.

 Preschool groups, a longtime haven for forming friendships, socializing young children, engaging in activities and feeling connected to a larger community, are heading into a new school year this month with hopes for a more normal calendar of events and renewed sense of comradery and unity with others also deep in the trenches of parenting.

 “People really create friendships by joining the group, and most members have actually created lifelong friends; covid has made all that really difficult,” said Molly Kish, who took the reins as president of the Brecksville-Broadview Heights Preschool Mothers Club (The Moms Club) at the start of the 2020-21 academic year. The nonprofit club has been around for 85 years and draws families from the Brecksville-Broadview Heights, North Royalton, Seven Hills and Independence school districts.

In an interesting twist, The Moms Club has actually seen its membership numbers increase since the pandemic began. Prior to 2020, active members came in around 165, and now two years later, that number has topped 200. Kish attributes the rise to many factors, from a need for friends (parents and children alike), a break from the loneliness and monotony of pandemic life, the accessibility of the vaccine for children and adults, the solid reputation the organization maintains, and the desire to become more connected to their school communities.

Yine Verbrugge of Brecksville moved to Ohio from Texas last year with her husband and their toddler. Looking for ways to become better acquainted with her new city, she found the club on Facebook and immediately connected with Kish.

“The Brecksville-Broadview Heights Preschool Mothers Club has been a lifeline for me,” Verbrugge said. “I’ve connected with so many other moms and really built community – that’s the big thing, that it’s been a way for me to build community here, which can be especially hard when you’ve moved to Ohio from across the country during a global pandemic.”

Like every organization, The Moms Club morphed its program offerings over the last two years to include virtual meetings/events, more outdoor activities and a survey asking members to rate their level of comfort attending events. As comfort levels increased and a vaccine became readily available, more recent activities have included hiking at the Cleveland Metroparks, participation in a Memorial Day Parade, a tour of Cleveland Browns FirstEnergy Stadium and even special adults-only programming, including a cooking class, indoor rock climbing and workout classes.

The book club is a perennial favorite, Kish said, along with the biannual consignment sale coming up on Friday, Sept. 30 and Saturday, Oct. 1 at the Brecksville-Broadview Heights Middle School. Learn more at preschoolmothersclub.com.

“We have grown our reputation,” Kish said. “Honestly, we’re a really great club. Our events are well-planned and organized, and I think too, especially going through the pandemic, people just want friends. They want a mom buddy. They want their kids to have friends and to know a few kids when they enter elementary school. Families want something to do. Now, more than ever, there’s really this need to create and cultivate community.” ∞