St. John's non-profit aims to build supportive community for struggling caregivers

·2 min read
Krista Noftall, left, and Kathryn Byrne are hoping to ease the burden of being a primary caregiver with their new non-profit group, Mothers of Avalon. They held an artisan market Saturday at the Lantern in St. John's. (Ryan Cooke/CBC - image credit)
Krista Noftall, left, and Kathryn Byrne are hoping to ease the burden of being a primary caregiver with their new non-profit group, Mothers of Avalon. They held an artisan market Saturday at the Lantern in St. John's. (Ryan Cooke/CBC - image credit)

A group of mothers in St. John's is hoping to fill a much-needed gap for new parents by providing a supportive community to help with supplies, field questions or just lend an ear to listen.

Mothers of Avalon was started by Krista Noftall and Kathryn Byrne — two mothers who have lived experience and know the stress and doubt that can come along with raising a child.

"We have big goals to provide support and aid to struggling mothers and caregivers across Newfoundland and Labrador," said Noftall.

"And while our name is Mothers of Avalon, we're open to anybody who is a primary caregiver of a child."

Noftall said the idea stemmed from her experience with postpartum depression and the day-to-day struggles of parenthood. Expert advice can be difficult to access, and the pandemic only applied even more pressure to already fragmented support systems.

She worried what other parents were going through, especially single caregivers who might be struggling alone.

Byrne, who is a single mother, said she was also motivated by her own experience with prenatal depression.

"There's so many parents out there that need support and not as many resources as there should be," she said.

The group hopes to provide access not only to experts in health care and child care, but also to provide a community for people to lean on in times of struggle or doubt.

'Now it's my time to give back'

Mothers of Avalon held a craft market in St. John's on Saturday to help raise money for its future programs. Linda Brown, a mother herself, was there selling her resin art and donating a chunk of the proceeds to the non-profit group.

Ryan Cooke/CBC
Ryan Cooke/CBC

As a member of the LGBTQ community, and someone who has experienced periods of homelessness in the past, Brown said she could really connect with the goals of the group.

"I've been able to kind of climb out of that and rebuild my life through accessing social supports and communities like this, and so now it's my time to give back to other mothers and caregivers who don't have as many opportunities and be able to elevate them so they can become independent and self-actualized," she said.

Like all parents, Brown said she's gleaned valuable lessons from her lived experience and raising a child.

"We are all works in progress and we all have more to learn, no matter how much you know," she said.

"Your children can really humble you and help you to remember what is important in life, which is that community, that connection, that family and that love. And that's really what it comes down to."

Mothers of Avalon hopes to create a slate of programs this summer, which will help primary caregivers access supports like mental health counsellors, lactation consultants and more.

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