“That special power of loving that belongs to a woman is seen most clearly when she becomes a mother.” – St. Teresa of Calcutta:
Since my husband became President of the University of Holy Cross back in 2019, I’ve had many conversations, I even wrote about them here, with mothers in the community – mothers from all backgrounds and all socioeconomic circumstances, mothers who work at the University, mothers who are alumnae, and mothers who are current students. And one theme persists: Moms need support from other moms.
As a working mom myself, I do understand the challenge of trying to manage the balance of work and home. I still remember what it was like to be the parent of an infant: the stress, the worry, the guilt, and the cost of daycare – and I am blessed enough to have had the resources my family needed.
I was recently introduced to One Happy Mama, an organization right here in New Orleans, with a mission dedicated to empowering and uplifting young mothers through their journey of motherhood, self-fulfillment, and self-discovery while pursuing their happiest lives.
Its founder, Janitza Vasquez, started this program to support young mothers to become career-driven, financially independent, happy, and healthy. Through their work, One Happy Mama has volunteers who serve as mentors to young, new, and expectant moms. Mentees attend workshops like Career Development, Child Development, Intro to Basic Finance, Self Care, and much more. They are required to participate in these workshops as part of their ‘sweat equity’ to access free resources, like diapers, strollers, and car seats.
I had the chance to speak with Rynae, age 20, one of the mentee moms in this program, and she provided an inside look at the tremendous work that One Happy Mama is doing in and around New Orleans.
Q: How did you find out about One Happy Mama?
A: I was scrolling through Instagram, looking for resources to help me support my family – I had a one-year-old son and was ten weeks pregnant with my second child at the time.
Q: What kind of resources have you been able to take advantage of so far?
A: This program is truly amazing. It’s not just a regular program. I was matched with a mentor who has taken me and my son out to the aquarium, insectarium, and children’s museum. One of my goals was to bond more with my son, and One Happy Mama has made this possible.
Q: Did you attend their community baby shower?
A: What an amazing idea!! I didn’t know anything like that could exist. There were so many resources for us moms: doulas, breastfeeding coaches, maternal health care providers, and so much more. They even organized a maternity photo shoot for us! I can’t wait to see my pictures. I also appreciated the diapers and wipes they provided.
Q: What would you like people to know about One Happy Mama?
Without One Happy Mama, I would not be able to get regular outings with my son, form a closer bond with him, and finish school all at the same time. One thing that I really appreciate is the ability to talk to other parents and form friendships with other moms, which is something that I did not have before. This organization is so amazing!
I, like Rynae, also had the chance to attend the One Happy Mama baby shower, and I echo her thoughts on the event. I have never seen anything like it and hope to attend many more in the future. It was a true community celebration, bringing together moms from all backgrounds to build relationships and social capital, while providing much needed resources.
I left that event knowing that there is a community of moms out there who are willing and able to help each other – even if it’s just to watch the baby for an hour so that you can eat lunch. I truly believe that by coming together through organizations like One Happy Mama, we can offer each other support and guidance and we can make a meaningful difference in the lives of young mothers, their children, and our community.
To support One Happy Mama, or to purchase an item from their wish list, please visit One Happy Mama | New Orleans Non-profit | New Orleans, LA, USA.