HANNIBAL, Mo. -- Trying to make new mom friends at the playground can be awkward at times. A new organization in Hannibal aims to ease the stress of connecting with other new mothers.
Mothers of Preschoolers -- abbreviated MOPs -- is an international faith-based community organization that encourages, educates and supports mothers of children ages 5 and younger.
"There are MOPs groups in Quincy (Ill.) and Center, and a lot of us had been traveling to Ralls County for the meetings," said Lydia Geisendorfer, Hannibal MOPs co-founder and member. "Not only did many of us see a need to start a group in Hannibal, but also the commute was hard with babies and toddlers."
Geisendorfer and other Hannibal women worked in conjunction with the main MOPs organization to start their own group in America's Hometown. The first Hannibal MOPs meeting will be from 9 to 11 a.m. Sept. 19 at the Crossing, 425 Broadway, and subsequent meetings will be held the third Tuesday of every month.
"As a mom of little kids, it's easy to get stuck inside all day," Geisendorfer explained. "This organization is a way to help other moms get out, make new friends and have some adult time together."
At each MOPs meeting, children will be cared for in a preschool-like setting. Mothers will have the opportunity to relax and chat with each other, listen to speakers who discuss topics relevant to parenting and being a woman, and participate in various activities.
There also will be "mentor moms," or older mothers, who will be on hand to provide encouragement, advice and insight on motherhood.
Organizers of the Hannibal MOPs group held an open house and registration day Monday for new members at Huckleberry Park, and many attended the event.
"Being a mom is a hard job. I work from home, and I don't get out much," new member Aleesha Roach said. "I saw the group on Facebook and was interested in joining. I think it will be very beneficial for us to get together. I also look forward to hearing from mentor moms."
Dorothy Davis is one of four mentor moms with the Hannibal organization.
"We're here to support, encourage and love," Davis said. "I have a grown daughter and was a stay-at-home mom while raising her. I remember how nice it was at that time to meet up with my other mother friends and do group activities like Bible study together. I think this is a great program, and it will benefit a lot of people in Hannibal."
So far, more than 100 people have joined the "MOPS Hannibal" Facebook group, and organizers are expecting about 30 people or more to attend the Sept. 19 meeting.
"We know the demographic is there. We want to get everyone involved, even virtually, for those who can't make the morning meetings," Geisendorfer said, adding that the group hopes to one day add evening meetings so that mothers who work during the day can attend.
Anyone is interested in joining the group can register at mops.org/join and use the Hannibal group code OAXH.