On North Fair Oaks in Pasadena, a LEED-certified, light-filled center bustles with young children and their parents.
This is Mothers’ Club Family Learning Center, which provides early childhood education and parent services to low-income families in an area of Pasadena that runs counter to the city’s wealthy reputation—here, 22% of families with children under 5 live below the poverty line, 28% of households have an annual income under $25,000, and 33% of adults have not graduated from high school. Childcare in Los Angeles is a financial challenge for even middle-income families in the Los Angeles area, but for the families Mothers’ Club serves, it’s almost completely out of reach.
“Without Mothers’ Club, I’d have to be at home,” said Imelda, a single mother whose three young children all attend Mothers’ Club during the week. Now she is able to put her extra time to good use.
With parenting classes, ESL classes, support groups and more, the organization serves parents and grandparents in addition to their children. Imelda quickly embraced these resources after coming to Mothers’ Club less than a year ago. “I love it because I learn and the topics change. It opened my mind so much,” she said.
Imelda has already seen a drastic change at home. “Both of my older kids can speak now,” she said. “Before they were pointing or screaming and it was so stressful because I didn’t know what they needed. The classes I take here teach me what they need and how to practice those skills at home.”
She’s also seeing a stark developmental difference between her youngest son of 18 months and her two older children of 3 and 4. “I’m so grateful my youngest son is here because he already knows so much more than the other two did. He already is saying words, and he can walk really fast.”
Now, Mothers’ Club wants to expand with more intentionally intergenerational opportunities. Programs for grandparents are a natural place to start. “Grandparents are already active members of our community,” said Hector LaFarga, Executive Director of Mothers’ Club. “Several serve as primary caretakers of our young children and are fully enrolled in our program, attending ESL and parent education classes and helping in our Early Childhood Education classrooms. Other grandparents attend holiday celebrations and our monthly Early Readers’ Book Club.” This year, a special Grandparent’s Day celebration will also give them more opportunity to visit the center and become more deeply involved.
There’s also intergenerational opportunity within their volunteer corps. Many of their 400 volunteers are seniors, and Mothers’ Club wants to welcome even more.
“One of our grandparents brings in her grandchild, and she volunteers once a week,” said Andrea Huicochea, the Mothers’ Club program coordinator. “She’s really consistent and the kids know her—she’s everyone’s grandma. She’s also a mom to all the younger moms here and answers questions. It’s also helped her grow, because she attends many of the classes too.”
With several senior centers in the immediate area, Mothers’ Club sees additional opportunities for collaboration. Older adults can serve as adult education tutors, literacy pen pals, reading partners and more. They also hope to create opportunities for children and their families to visit the senior centers to engage in fun community activities. “We want to make the senior/child connection a little more deliberate,” LaFarga said.
In the near future, Mothers’ Club is expanding their identity along with their evolving family and generational focus. “We want to be like a community hub,” LaFarga said. “We want to have even more impact.”Back to Eisner Journal Directory