Three moms have identified a communitywide problem, and they’ve come up with a unique solution.
In August, the doors are slated to open on The Village, a business that caters to children and parents alike. It will be a place of playing, learning, relaxing and a lot more, according to the purpose-filled mothers who gave birth to the idea.
The three – Chereé Muñoz, Lea Hayward and Nhu Bergstrom – noticed that Murphys and other nearby towns had plenty of places for parents to patronize, but not much where kid-friendly establishments are concerned. Putting their heads together and being inspired by similar business models in places like Valley Springs, the trio put a plan into action.
The Village is described in marketing materials as a place where “parents and caregivers can come enjoy a cup of coffee, let their kids play, all the while bonding with other families, sharing ideas, and enjoying community.” There will be “imaginative play, blocks and creative activities planned as well – including child enrichment, community-building networks and parenting support groups.”
It’s “preschool without the day care,” Bergstrom said, with her partners echoing the sentiment.
Because of the isolation that parenting younger children in a rural area can bring, the trio looks at The Village as a place to help parents connect with others.
“How can we have this ‘village’ mentality to help each other and support each other all while raising children?” Muñoz said. “It can be a lonely and isolating task or journey if you don’t have support.”
All three have young children, so they understand the need for that support. The Village, though it may seem like a place for kids, is equally meant for the adults.
“After you have kids, you lose yourself, your identity,” Bergstrom said. “It’s trying to make friends with people who are in the same stages of their life. My oldest is a special-needs child. I always like to talk about that because we have a mom that bought pre-sale membership because she also has a special-needs child. And we will work through our business to help support and accommodate.”
Bergstrom went on to say that outside of school, there aren’t many activities available for special-needs children.
“So we’re looking to support every aspect of family, regardless of what that support looks like,” Hayward said. “A special-needs family needs a little bit more support, and that’s fine. We would like to try to provide that, if possible. A more typical family, they need a different kind of support.”
Since “family” can be defined a myriad of ways in today’s culture, the trio is quick to acknowledge that it could be single moms, single dads or anyone who is a parent that their service will benefit.
“We know, personally, that being home and not having socialization for the parents and the kids can be very isolating. It can be depressing, it could be, like, ‘Oh, my gosh, I’m the only one having a hard time in this parenthood journey,’” Muñoz said. “But to go and realize that … there’s other people in this world that are going through the exact same thing as me, we can become better families together. It’s not just a play space.”
The nearly 2,000-square-foot space will feature the imaginative play area, a space for the parents to sit back and socialize (with the bonus of a coffee bar), and what is being dubbed as the “VIP room” or Very Important Parent. That room will be used for nursing or bottle-fed babies or as quiet space. The bonus? There will be snacks within reach.
“We’ll be providing all these toys for the open-ended play for the kids to connect with each other, to be (engaged) in activities with their parents, crafts and whatnot, but we’re also going to be providing a coffee bar so that parents can have that chance to relax, have that cup of coffee, make themselves a cup of tea,” Hayward said. “We’ll be having Wi-Fi, so that if kids are … independently playing, parents can bring their computer and do their work-from-home tasks or even sending emails or whatever they need to do.”
“Or just read a book,” Muñoz said.
Monthly memberships and day passes are going to be available, and vacationers are also invited to utilize the space. There are also plans to use the space for classes and workshops.
The opening is planned for early August, and more information on hours and costs can be found at thevillage.family.
“It’s been resonating. We need this. We really want an investment for the community,” Bergstrom said. “Our purpose and our driver is to make it for our area.”
“If we can make somebody else’s parenthood journey easier and support them, this is why I love this,” Munoz said. “… I see beyond the potential of just the good we’re going to put into this world because of this space.”