Mother knows best

Linda Ade-Ridder

Here’s a math problem that’s really a no-brainer: When babies and young children are treated with tender loving care, it adds up to a great start in life for them.

That’s a lesson already taken to heart and put into practice by the Mother Mentors program, a project of the Readiness to Learn foundation, said Linda Ade Ridder of Clinton.

Ridder has helped coordinate the program on the south end for two years now and said it pays dividends in the lives of grown ups too, namely, new parents or those just in need of a little help during an extra busy time of their lives.

“We’ve seen firsthand how providing a volunteer in the home can really make a positive difference,” said Ridder. “When families are supported, everyone does better.”

Ridder believes North Whidbey Island, with its large number of Navy families, could reap great benefits from the Mother Mentors program if enough volunteers are found.

Mother Mentors seeks to match trained, screened volunteers with families. The objective is placement in homes with children under the age of 5.

“We’re not a baby-sitting service, but rather a non-judgmental advocate,” said Ridder, who described a variety of tasks the volunteers can perform in the home, including minding the baby while Mom catches a quick nap, reading to a younger sibling while the parent tends the baby, or doing light household chores, such as laundry.

“Most of our volunteers are women in their 50’s and 60’s, but younger folks are also encouraged to apply,” said Ridder. And the Mother Mentors program welcomes male volunteers as well.

“Dads in single-parent households might be especially grateful for another dad who’s been through it all before,” said Ridder. She notes  Navy families often see parents deploying and thinks Mother Mentors could help fill the gap when extended family members cannot.

Perhaps someone has older children and misses the “baby stage.” Being a Mother Mentors volunteer might be an option. Ridder says they are especially interested in volunteers who have such experience — even if it’s been awhile.

“All we ask is that you complete our one-day training session, agree to a background check, and once accepted, commit to serve for three months.”

A social worker matches Mother Mentors volunteers with families, using personal interviews to assure the best possible relationship between everyone involved.

For those interested in helping in some other capacity, Ridder says there is a great need for people who can help with the organizational effort on North Whidbey Island.

Oak Harbor’s one-day training session will be conducted from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Saturday, March 10. Those interested should contact Ridder by March 7 or 8. Call her at 360-279-5514 or 360-221-0484 or email her at wamo