A Parksville woman opened up her property to create a community for moms to support other moms with time and donations.
Lisa Redl started the Parksville-Qualicum chapter of Mamas for Mamas, a national charitable organization that supports mothers and caregivers, shortly after moving to the area in June.
“I realized how forgotten moms have become — and isolated. Nobody wanted them at grocery stores, nobody wanted moms to leave their kids in the car and nobody wants to babysit kids during a pandemic,” she said.
She set up a free store where people can pick up things like diapers, wipes, clothing, shoes, laundry detergent and non perishable food items. Moms can take what they need without feeling obligated to donate items — many give back by cleaning, organizing and labeling things for the store, according to Redl.
She also has built a farm stand for extra produce, a community garden and a community tool shed on the family’s half-acre property she has named Pioneer Village. Redl said concerned neighbours have reported her to the bylaw officers and the Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN).
“People see people coming and going from our property and into our trailers, which looks pretty shady,” she said.
Her organization serves moms from the edge of Nanaimo all the way to Qualicum Bay and Whiskey Creek, according to Redl, adding a contactless drop off and pick up zone was set up in a central location.
There is a Mamas for Mamas chapter in Nanaimo and Redl said the two groups help each other whenever possible. She and others helped support a grandmother in Nanaimo whose daughter was dealing with addiction.
“Our moms rallied together. I fostered her grandson for two weeks while other moms chopped wood, went grocery shopping, made sure she had everything she needed so that when she got her daughter to treatment she was supported,” said Redl.
Her inspiration came when she found herself temporarily alone, pregnant and looking after three children while her husband was away selling their home in Kelowna. She was put on a three week waiting list for grocery delivery early in the pandemic and realized she was not alone.
“That helplessness I felt temporarily — I realized is happening to moms on a daily basis, especially during the pandemic and that’s why I opened up my property for them,” said Redl.
She said she hopes to expand Pioneer Village, with the city’s permission, to include a gym. By creating a support system for moms, Redl said the whole community can benefit.
“It’s actually protecting vulnerable seniors and also moms to just park beside my property, run in and grab something they need and not have to go into a store with their kids,” she said.
Redl is working on registering Pioneer Village as a charity and intends to host workshops on woodworking, beekeeping, art, photography and gardening.