Moms and Mentors program changes lives

Nursing career made possible through program

Rick Stiebel

News staff

Moms and Mentors is playing the role of a guiding parent to perfection by helping Brittany Hildahl achieve her nursing degree.

Hildahl first got involved with Moms and Mentors in 2017 when her daughter, Maya was four months old and she saw a posting about scholarships at the Westshore Public Health Unit on Wale Road, where Maya receives her immunizations. “I was entering my third year of nursing at the time and gave Maureen Hobbs (the founder of Moms and Mentors) a call,” Hildahl said. “Maureen came to my place and delivered a beautiful care package for my baby.”

Hildahl reeived a $1,000 scholarship from Moms and Mentors in September, which has been a huge help. “Student loans only go so far, and unforeseen expenses always come up. Moms and Mentors also offered great support with tutoring for my statistics courses.They have been so supportive. Maureen is someone I look up to, an inspiration in public health nursing,” Hildahl said, adding that she looks forward to the monthly meetings at the health unit or Belmont Secondary.

The Langford resident is in her fourth year of the Bachelor in Science in Nursing program at the University of Victoria. Although she wasn’t initially sure of what path to follow, the answer is clear now. “I know I want to be a part of advocating for marginalized people and work with people suffering from mental illness and substance abuse,” she noted. “I also have a passion for public and global health. The great thing about nursing is that there’s so many options. I’ve always had compassion and empathy for people. I know I’m in the right career. No matter how tired I am or how hard my shift was, I still feel energized and uplifted.”

Moms and Mentors supports mothers by helping them face the challenges of motherhood and parenting by connecting them to resources in the community, explained Maureen Hobbs, who launched the organization in at Belmont Secondary School in 1995.

“We do that in many ways, including food security, mentoring, and providing scholarship opportunities,” said Hobbs, a former public health nurse who teaches nursing at the University of Victoria. ”The mentors are the pillars of our organization. It wouldn’t be a success without those people in the community who volunteer their time by mentoring and supporting what we do. As a mom, nurse, educator and Rotarian, I believe in serving the community. Moms and Mentors is the engine that keeps me on track because I believe education and support are pivotal for our community’s health. Over the past 20 years I’ve seen how it transforms lives and provides a route out of social isolation, disadvantage and poverty. Building a safer community is not only rewarding, it’s a lot of fun. I feel privileged to partner with volunteer mentors, other service groups, businesses and individuals who enable us to promote positive parenting, mentorship, and educational and career advancement.”

Hildahl agrees that education is key. “Moms and Mentors understands and supports that,” she said. Although balancing schooling and parenting can be challenging, Hildahl stresses the importance of being organized. “Simple things such as preparing a lunch or selecting an outfit the day before can make a difference. Having reliable childcare is important, and I am forever grateful for that. It’s the biggest challenge for parents studying. Most importantly, taking care of yourself so that you can effectively care for your children and in my case, my patients as well.”

For more on Moms and Mentors, visit momsandmentorssociety.ca, or email hobbs at maureenhobbs@shaw.ca.

rick.stiebel@goldstream gazette.com

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