St. John’s nonprofit aims to create a supportive community for struggling caregivers

A group of mothers in St. John’s hopes to fill a much-needed gap for new parents by offering a supportive community to help with supplies, answer questions or just lend an ear to listen.

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

“We have big goals to provide support and help to struggling mothers and caregivers in Newfoundland and Labrador,” Noftall said.

“And although our name is Mothers of Avalon, we are open to anyone who is primarily caring for 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 has only put more pressure on already fragmented support systems.

She worried about what other parents were going through, especially single caregivers who might be struggling on their own.

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

“There are so many parents who need support and not as many resources as there should be,” she said.

The group hopes to not only provide access to healthcare and childcare experts, but also provide a community to lean on in times of struggle or doubt.

“Now it’s time for me to give back”

Mothers of Avalon held a craft market in St. John’s on Saturday to help raise funds for its future programs. Linda Brown, a mother herself, sold her resin art there and donated a portion of the profits to the non-profit group.

Linda Brown was at the Mother’s Day Market selling resin art. Brown said her own experience made her identify with the goals of Mothers of Avalon. (Ryan Cooke/CBC)

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

“I was able to kind of come out of this and rebuild my life by accessing social supports and communities like this, and now it’s time for me to give back to other mothers and caregivers who have not not as many opportunities and being able to nurture them so they can become independent and thrive,” she said.

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

“We’re all works in progress and we all have more to learn, no matter what you know,” she said.

“Your kids can really humble you and help you remember what’s important in life, which is that community, that connection, that family, and that love. And that’s really what it’s about.”

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

Midsummer morning show7:45Avalon Mothers

A new group brings mothers to help mothers. 7:45

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