We sat down with Meryl Rich to hear about her experience as a Rubin Visiting Mom volunteer.
How did you first get involved with the Rubin Visiting Moms Program?
For several years, I had been hearing about the program from a close friend who was a Rubin Visiting Mom. Though intrigued, my responsibilities as a mother and as a classroom teacher at Epstein Hillel School (then Cohen Hillel Academy) took precedent over most other activities. Upon retiring four years ago, I knew this was one of a few avenues of volunteerism that I wanted to pursue. Having been a new mom once upon a time, I clearly remember the plethora of feelings that I experienced—fears, frustrations, fatigue, loneliness and inadequacies, to name a few. I wish I could have had someone to lend support.
Why do you enjoy being a Rubin Visiting Mom volunteer?
The universal sisterhood of motherhood can be intoxicating. Supporting a new mom who may be insecure and doubtful of her abilities, or even doubtful of the love for her infant, is challenging and so rewarding. Guiding her toward small successes and watching her develop into a woman with a 1-year-old who has bonded and nurtured her child leaves me, most often, feeling that there is good in the world.
What is your favorite memory during your time as a Rubin Visiting Mom volunteer?
There have been a few. One involves a new mom who was so unsure of her ability to parent that she felt as though she was merely a babysitter for her infant. I like to think that with our conversations and our brainstorming to problem-solve, along with support from those who love her, she came to realize that she has all that it takes to be a wonderful mother. She and her child became inseparable during that first year.
How do you feel your experience as a teacher has helped you in being a Rubin Visiting Mom volunteer?
Without a doubt, my over 40 years in the classroom has had a profound effect on all that I do. In particular, it is crystal clear to me that no two people are exactly alike, that almost all individuals deserve to be respected on their own merits, whether it be a child or an adult. Everyone has a story that has led them to the time and place in which we meet. For new mothers, each will have to find her own path, certainly with some commonalities. This holds true for children as well. It is so gratifying to watch a child or a mom navigate their way toward a direction that is comfortable for them.
Favorite children’s book?
I have three. For babies and toddlers, “Runaway Bunny.” For older children, “The Giving Tree” and “Wonder.”
If you’re interested in getting involved with JF&CS, visit our Volunteering page!
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