Your guide to parenting in Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts
A Families First RI mother and her twin babies with mentor.

A Families First RI mother and her twin babies with mentor.

It takes a whole village to raise a child -Igobo and Yoruba (Nigeria) Proverb

No matter what her circumstances, even with the most abundant resources surrounding her, when a woman becomes a new mother her hormones surge, her sleep is deprived, and her life as she knows it is completely rocked. When stressors like post-partum depression, lack of family proximity or support, single parenting, health problems, or financial concerns are added to the universally-experienced demands and fears of new-parenthood, the weight is simply too much to bear alone.

One local organization is bringing “the village” that much closer to mothers in need of a helping hand and listening ear. Families First RI is a non-profit organization that matches pregnant women and new mothers with compassionate, experienced mothers trained as volunteer mentors in the innovative “Moms for Moms” program. In this unique relationship, the lives of the mentor, mother, baby and entire family are positively impacted. Executive Director Beth Hurt, whose involvement with Families First RI began as a mentor, posed, “How often in your life can you help someone so directly, supporting a person in the most vulnerable time in her life?”

How to Get Involved

Be Matched with a Mentor
If you are in the late stages of pregnancy or the mother of a new baby and feel you could benefit from a weekly visit in your home to ask questions, share concerns, and receive guidance from an experienced mother mentor, all you need to do is reach out. The program is free of charge. A Families First RI clinician will do an initial visit to learn more about you for your match and help guide you toward additional resources if needed.

Become a Mentor
Perhaps you’ve made it to “the other side” of your own early parenting struggles and want to be there for a new mother in a way you wished someone had been there for you. After participating in a 4-week training with Families First RI clinicians, you will be asked to commit weekly 1-hour visits for a 1-year minimum with a mother to offer confidential, non-judgmental support, mom-to-mom.

Monthly Community Gatherings
Families First RI offers monthly Community Gatherings which feature guest speakers and an opportunity for parents to connect and nurture themselves while babies and older children play together. Community Gatherings are open to all families with an infant – you don’t have to be involved in the Moms for Moms program. These drop-in events are held the first Saturday of the month from 10:30-12:00 at the First Unitarian Church of Providence at 1 Benevolent St., Providence. The next Community Gathering is May 7, 2016, then they will take a break during the summer. Check back at the website for fall gatherings.

Annual BBQ Fundraiser at Mulligan’s Island
Support the mission of Families First RI while having a blast at this family event featuring BBQ fare, live music, a silent auction/raffle in addition to the usual fun Mulligan’s Island activities: miniature golf, pitch & putt, driving range, batting cages. There will also be a golf tournament on Mulligan’s 9-hole, Par 3 course. This year’s event honors the Kristen Kardos, MA Ed., and Kathy McGuigan, LCSW of Rhode Island New Moms Connection for their impact on the RI community of pregnant and new mothers.

MomForMomsLogo-HD copy

When: Saturday, May 21, 2016 from 3:00 – 6:00 PM
Where: Mulligan’s Island Golf & Entertainment Center, 1000 New London Ave., Cranston, RI
Tickets: $30 for regular admission, $15 for children aged 3-11, $50 for golf tournament (includes regular admission, space is limited)
Purchase tickets HERE

For more information on Families First RI – Moms for Moms
To be matched with a mentor or learn about volunteering as a mentor, contact Tania at (401) 383-9933 or email
Follow them on Facebook


Join Erin Vinacco this Halloween for a free family yoga class on Halloween Day (October 31) at the Motion Center Yoga Collective, Hope Artiste Village, Pawtucket. Halloween Costumes are welcome!

Regular weekly classes will be be held throughout the winter during Farmer's Market starting Nov 1st, Saturdays 10-10:45am, $5 per participant. Free for little ones under 2!


Come move, breathe, play and relax together! Family yoga is active and engaging opportunity for families to connect in a whole new way.  Practicing yoga postures with a new, fun and playful approach helps us all to decrease our stress and increase our joy and connection.  Each class includes breathing practices, group and partner activities as well as tools to calm and focus our minds and bodies both on the mat and at home.  Class concludes with time for quiet guided relaxation and rest even for the most wiggly bodies and active minds.  All abilities welcome.  All children must be accompanied by an adult participant.  Focus is on school-aged children (5-12) but younger and older siblings are welcome to join too.  Aunties, cousins and grandparents are all welcome - bring the whole family!

Erin Vinacco is a native Rhode Islander with over 7 years of experience working with and children,parents and families. She finds joy in sharing both the peaceful and playful aspects of yoga and mindfulness with students of all ages and abilities and currently works with the non-profit ResilientKids to bring mindfulness into the schools.  Her compassionate presence welcomes all students to the mat and allows everyone to explore and develop their unique practice at their own pace and comfort level.  She is a certified Kripalu yoga teacher and has been practicing yoga and meditation for more than a decade.   Erin has completed a 40-hour training in Trauma Sensitive Yoga through the Trauma Center in Boston and over 40 hours in training in teaching yoga to children, teens and adults with special needs through Creative Relaxation Yoga Therapy and My OmAbilities.

Find out more about Motion Center Yoga Collective here.


This Halloween, FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education) is encouraging food allergy families to start a new tradition: painting a pumpkin teal and placing it on your porch as a sign to other families managing food allergies that you have non-food treats available at your home. Your teal pumpkin is also a way to raise awareness in your neighborhood about food allergies!

Purchasing inexpensive non-food treats to hand out is a great way to include all children in trick-or-treating, and FARE hope that the Teal Pumpkin Project will be a tradition for years to come.

Examples of non-food items include: glow bracelets or necklaces, pencils, markers, boxes of crayons, erasers, bubbles, mini Slinkies, whistles or noisemakers, bouncy balls, coins, spider rings, vampire teeth, mini notepads, playing cards, bookmarks, stickers, and stencils.


Print out FARE’s teal pumpkin poster to post next to your door to notify visitors that you are handing out non-food items in support of all children with food allergies.

Last year, households from 50 states and 7 countries participated in the Teal Pumpkin Project. This year, you can be part of an even bigger movement by joining 100,000 households pledging to participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project.




Postpartum Progress’ Climb Out of the Darkness® is the world’s largest event raising awareness of maternal mental illnesses like postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety & OCD, postpartum PTSD, postpartum psychosis, postpartum bipolar disorder, and pregnancy depression and anxiety.

Climb Out of the Darkness is held on or near the longest day of the year annually to help shine the most light on perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. The event features mothers and others across the globe joining together to climb mountains and hike trails to represent their symbolic rise out of the darkness of maternal mental illness and into the light of hope and recovery.

Help us shine the light of hope with our words and our advocacy efforts so that our fellow mothers will receive better information and better treatment, and their new families will get off to the healthy and strong start they deserve.

Team RI will be joining the event on Saturday June 20th at 9am at John Chafee Nature Preserve. For more information, contact Courtenay Xavier at or go to the event website Postpartum Progress.



I have been a big fan of StoryCorps since it began 10 years ago with their mission to provide people of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share and preserve the stories of our lives. Reminding us of our shared humanity, to strengthen and build the connections between people, to teach the value of listening, and to weave into the fabric of our culture the understanding that everyone’s story matters. At the same time, StoryCorps is creating an invaluable archive for future generations. I love listening to the stories and the idea of preserving my own.

storycorps-mom-compilationIn honor of Mother's Day, StoryCorps reminds us to talk with other mothers. StoryCorps has made it easy for us to preserve the stories with their now free app (download the app here) and has even suggested questions to get the conversation rolling.

Using the app's step-by-step directions, it's simple to honor your mother while preserving her wisdom, memories, and voice forever at the Library of Congress.

If you're unable to be with your mom this weekend, StoryCorps suggests getting together with a sibling, friend, or spouse and share some stories about a woman who means a lot to you. Listen closely—you never know what you'll learn about the extraordinary women in your life!

Questions to ask your mom...

Ooops! Mother's Day is this Sunday and you may well have forgotten or not got around to making a card or grabbing a gift for that special Mom in your life. Check out these easy ideas for all ages (including adults) to save your bacon just in time for Sunday morning!


Paper Flower Pot (Food, Love and Life)


Yarn hearts (hello, Wonderful)



Personal Book about Mom (hello, Wonderful)


Paint Swatch Coupon Book (Shannon Berrey)


Newpaper Page about Mom (Martha Stewart)


Flower Power Mommy (hello, Wonderful)


Finger Print Plant Pot (Kids Stuff World)


Don't be alarmed! We will NOT be discussing bootcamps, marathons or one armed push-ups in the following article! We will however, talk about the mind-bogglingly difficult process of getting up and moving again after you have a baby.

Exercise! Whether that means a walk around the block, a yoga class, whatever your thing, it provides us with a wonderful dose of endorphins, a precious piece of soul-nourishing time and makes us feel so much better about ourselves. And yet, like a frustrated but happy hamster, we get stuck in this wheel of making it happen. We get energy when we workout, we need energy to workout, we don't have energy with a new baby, and round and round we go! I get it! Having a shower most days is a huge personal triumph and adding something else onto our daily lists can be overwhelming.  As with so many aspects of parenting, society imposes unrealistic pressures - presenting us with images of Moms who seem to get their pre-baby bodies back so quickly after giving birth.  If you worked out before having children, the need to return to those glory days as well as regaining some identity, can also be an additional dose of self-pressure. Getting back to your former self takes time, patience and sometimes a bit of letting go.

The benefits of exercising before, during and after pregnancy are amazing. Increased energy, fewer aches and pains and improved self esteem are among just a few. And yet, we often find this re-aquaintance with our post-baby bodies, one of the hardest parts about re-starting exercise. Why won't my body react when I want it to? Why does this exercise feel so hard now? Why do I pee the moment I move an inch off the floor? Remember, working out comes in many forms and it's all about moving your body, shifting energy and being kind to yourself.

Here are a few tips before resuming exercise:

Exercises with your baby
Finding the time to workout with a new baby can be really tricky.  Here are some easy exercises that you can do with your baby at home.

* Low Plank - elbows under your shoulders, feet together, body in one level line. Modification: drop knees to ground. Hold for 15 seconds and increase time daily.
* Cat stretches - hands under your shoulders, knees under hips. Round upper back and then flatten back. Repeat. Modification: Make fists if you have sore wrists.
IMG_7134* Baby Press - lie down on your back, knees bent, feet on floor.  Hold your baby over your chest and press them down towards your chest and up into the air.  Head and shoulders stay on the floor. Try 10-20 reps, rest and repeat 3-4 times.
IMG_7141* Squat - holding your baby in the middle of your body, legs are wide and feet facing 10 o'clock and 2 o'clock, weight in your heels.  Sit down into your heels, stand up and squeeze bum as you do so.
IMG_7147* Baby on thighs - twists or lean backs.  Heels into floor, neck neutral, either lean back and then up OR twist to one side and then the other.  For a higher level, lift your heels off the floor.
IMG_7137* Child's Pose - such a great end of the day hip/low back opener.  Baby can be right on the floor between your arms. Open your knees up wide and rest body onto thighs.  Hold for 30 seconds or longer if you can.
IMG_7136* Baby bicep curls - Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Shoulders rolled back, tummy tucked in. Hold your baby sideways in your arms. Roll her towards your chest and then down towards your hips. Keep your elbows tucked in. Repeat.

Photo Credits: Suzanne Cadge, Catherine Lea

4-30-2014 1-29-00 PMReprinted with Permission, COHI, 2014

Imagine if your mother had been alone or without the necessary supplies to bring you safely into this world. Honor your mom this holiday with a donation that will help another mother and baby survive their delivery. Circle of Health International (COHI) is partnering with Maternova to create a unique crowd-funding supply drive on Crowdrise. You get to choose a donation amount that will provide life-saving tools from Matrenova that will be sent to COHI to use for the next disaster response effort. COHI will mail your mom a Mother’s Day card on your behalf letting her know that you've made this life giving supply purchase in her name. Flowers will wilt but a mother's love never fades…

View this Mother’s Day gift giving opportunity that will truly save a life here:

Funded by Providence mom and entrepreneur Meg Wirth, Maternova, is a pioneering e-commerce marketplace for technologies and innovations addressing maternal and newborn health. They focus on providing effective, low-cost tools to health workers and non-profits in low-resource settings.

The stark danger of childbirth
- One woman dies every 90 the context of trying to give life
- In a country like Niger, this means 1 in 7 women will die 'a maternal death'
- Worldwide, each year approximately 326,000 women die 'a maternal death'
- And each year 1 million children are left motherless due to maternal death
- Each generation we lose 10 million women to maternal death
An estimated additional 350,000 midwives are needed worldwide to ensure universal coverage

What are the causes of death?
- postpartum hemorrhage (massive bleeding)
- obstructed labor (no access to a needed c-section)
- eclampsia (seizures that end in coma and death)
- infection or sepsis (unsafe abortion)

**source: Maternova

COHI helps mommas and babies in the toughest areas of the world and you can too! Don’t let a child grow up without its mother.

Choose from any of the Gift Card amounts below available on our Crowdrise campaign page:

On Saturday March 8, men and women all over the world celebrate International Women’s Day. It is a global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future. International Women's Day has been observed since the early 1900's and in some countries like China, Russia, Vietnam and Bulgaria, International Women's Day is even a national holiday. In some countries, it is treated like Mother's Day with children giving small gifts and flowers to their Mother's and Grandmothers.

6e4f06f31c0657a41cbf8ff2e9cd0ec3This year’s theme is “Equality for women is progress for all” and emphasizes how gender equality, empowerment of women, women’s human rights and the eradication of poverty are essential to economic and social development.

Here are some ways YOU can get involved in International Women's Day.

Important women you could mention are:

Mother Teresa
Oprah Winfrey
Marie Curie
Eleanor Roosevelt
Jackie Joyner-Kersee
Amelia Earhart
Malala Yousafzai

Find our more information about International Women's Day at:


Photo Source: As Long As Its Fancy via Pinterest

Local parent, Tara Demyan is a fan of the Meditation for Kids and Family class at Atisha Kadampa Meditation Center. To learn more about what it means to meditate together as a family, read Tara's recent interview with Angela Stewart, Education Program Coordinator of the Atisha Kadampa Meditation Center.

Children Meditating Together What is a “family” meditation class?

Angela: All parents want their children to be happy, and every child wants a happy family. “Meditation for Kids and Families” is an opportunity for families to come together, have fun, and learn special ways of thinking and being that help to create a meaningful life and a happy family.

The family class offers a simple introduction to Buddha’s teachings, emphasizing loving- kindness, respect for others, and keeping a happy heart and positive attitude.

The family meditation class helps kids learn together how to develop harmony, confidence and methods to calm their minds and be happy. Each class includes a short discussion about everyday experiences relevant to children, guided meditation, and fun activities that foster kindness, cooperation, patience and giving.

playing games
How can meditation benefit my child?

Angela: Children want to live in a peaceful world. Such a world starts with a happy family and harmonious relationships with others. The meditation for kids and families class offers children an opportunity to do engage in fun, meaningful activities with their families while connecting with others who are interested in learning how to create a peaceful world.

Meditation is a method to make our mind peaceful, calm, strong and stable. Children who are able to remain calm when faced with difficulty are more resilient to the problems of daily life. They are able to develop and maintain better relationships with others and experience fewer problems and difficulties.

Children in our modern world face many challenges. We live in a world where children are exposed to violence and other tragedies. Many children are dealing with interpersonal conflict, stress, and worry. Over 2000 years ago, Buddha gave instructions to solve human problems. Although very ancient, this advice is still relevant for our modern world and can benefit those of all ages.

How old does my child need to be to participate in the class?

Angela: The class is recommended for children 5 — 12 years of age; however, these are only guidelines. Generally, the class is best for children who can remain seated in a small group for 15-20 minutes, follow instructions, and participate in group activities.

 I’m not sure my child can sit still, let alone meditate. Can children really meditate?

Angela: Many people think children can’t meditate because they have difficulty sitting still. This simply is not true! Although sitting still is helpful during meditation practice, it is not required; we can meditate during all of our daily activities simply by holding a positive state of mind, such as love or compassion. Since all children can learn positive ways of thinking, even about challenging situations, they can definitely learn to meditate, even if they have difficulty sitting still. Like any skill, meditation takes practice. In these classes, children will learn short, guided meditations. As children practice and gain experience, they are able to sit quietly for longer periods of time.

 What is the structure of the class?

Angela: Classes include teaching and discussion about issues relevant to children and emphasize Buddhist principles for how to become more patient, loving, and kind towards others. Classes also include a brief prayer (e.g., for all beings to be happy and free from problems), short guided meditations appropriate for children, and fun activities. Instruction is provided primarily through experiential learning, such as with the use of games, stories, crafts, puppetry, and acting.

What do parents do during the class?

Angela: Parents are welcomed and encouraged to participate in the family meditation class. By learning to meditate themselves, parents are better able to help their children practice what they have learned at home, in school and during their daily activities.

Does my child need special clothing or equipment?

Angela: All of these classes are open to anyone; it is not necessary to pre-register; and you are welcome to join at any time. Children don’t need to bring or wear anything special to the classes, and both chairs and cushions are available for sitting.

What is Atisha Kadampa Buddhist Center?

Angela: Atisha Kadampa Buddhist Center is an oasis of peace and inspiration in the heart of the East Side that offers a relaxed, welcoming setting in which to explore ways to develop wisdom and cultivate peaceful states of mind. Classes are designed to provide practical advice for responding to life’s challenges. Since Buddhist teachings and practices can be understood and applied by everyone, regardless of experience or religious background, anyone can find practical benefit at our classes, workshops, and events.


Atisha Kadampa Buddist Center is part of Serlingpa Meditation Center
339 Ives Street Providence, RI 02906

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