MOMS Club helps isolated new mother get a life


March 29, 2000|By Donna Koros Stramella | Donna Koros Stramella,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

BEING A NEW mother can be a solitary experience. When Jackie Londino and her husband moved to Maryland more than four years ago, she knew life would be different. The couple had left a lifetime of friends and family behind in Philadelphia. And since Londino had decided to leave her career as a surgical nurse to care for her infant son, she was even more isolated.

But now the young mother has places to go, things to do, people to see -- and she owes that to the Glen Burnie MOMS Club.

The Glen Burnie chapter of the nationwide nonprofit group was established more than five years ago. The group describes itself as "moms helping moms," but helps mothers and children by providing a network of friends and a wide range of activities.

Each month, members can choose activities according to their interests. For mothers, there's a book club, recipe exchange, guest speakers and ladies' night out. The children enjoy play days at the park, trips to the zoo, and tours of such places as a supermarket and a dentist's office.

One of the organization's recent service projects was a donation of hats for children undergoing chemotherapy.

"When I joined, I thought I was doing it for my son, but I soon realized I was doing it for me," Londino said. "It's just an opportunity to be with people who know what you're going through."

Some of the members work part time; others are stay-at-home mothers. A monthly newsletter provides details on activities, child-care tips, even poems.

At one point the group grew to more than 100 members, necessitating the formation of a MOMS chapter in Pasadena/Severna Park. The Glen Burnie roster now stands at 40 members, with children ranging in age from newborn through 7.

Annual dues are $20, which includes a subscription to the newsletter, a MOMS Club pin and four activities. Prospective members can attend two functions before joining.

The club meets monthly at St. Alban's Episcopal Church on First Avenue S.W. The next meeting is scheduled from 9: 30 a.m. to 11: 30 a.m. April 14. Mothers and children attend together.

For those who are nervous about attending the first meeting, the group has a "buddy system" to help newcomers feel comfortable.

"When I moved here, I didn't know anybody," Londino said. "It's a lifesaver for people."

For more information, call Londino at 410-636-1957.

Champion Twisters

The Maryland Twisters have something to cheer about. The all-star cheerleading squad, based in Glen Burnie, is back from Florida with numerous awards from national competitions in Jacksonville and Orlando.

In the Cheerleaders of America National Championship at Jacksonville, all four of the Twisters squads -- Youth (grade six and under), Junior (grades six through nine), Senior (high school) and Open (ages 18 and older) -- advanced to the final rounds in the competition, which included more than 200 teams.

The Youth squad finished fourth, Juniors fifth, and the Senior and Open groups placed third.

In the individual competition, Ashley Toppins, a pupil at Old Mill Middle, placed second. Junior Stunt Team members earned second place: They are Mandy Vardy of Chesapeake High; Ashley, and Starneisha Gore of Columbia's Wilde Lake High; Dallas Frye, Glen Burnie High; and Allison Gordon of Severna Park Middle.

The Senior Stunt Team, finishing in fifth place, consists of Jade Hall and Crystal Bateman, both of Chesapeake High; Jessica Palmier, Howard High; and Jamie Fortman, Institute of Notre Dame.

The nonprofit cheerleading squad moved on last weekend to the AMERICHEER meet in Orlando, where the Senior squad won a national championship in the large-group all-star category, and the Junior group finished fifth.

Ashley won the Junior individual national championship. Season Daugherty of Glen Burnie Park Elementary was second in Youth individuals, and Sharon Woodall of Old Mill Hill finished fourth in the Senior competition.

The group has captured numerous awards this year. At the state championships held at the Baltimore Arena last month, individuals and stunt groups earned an impressive number of first-place wins.

The team practices at United Cheer and Tumble gym at 111 Langley Road, where tryouts for prospective members will take place April 15 and 16. Information: 410-766-8729.

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