The Mothers’ Center of Central NJ is a non-profit organization committed to building and fostering a community of support and empowerment for all mothers. Established in 1978, we offer many opportunities for local moms to connect through daytime and evening activities. Our philosophy is built on a foundation of peer support and education. One of our moms said it best in one of our newsletter:
The idea of something for the kids and something for me is a little bit of why I need and enjoy the Mothers’ Center so much…it is a place that lets me be myself and my children have fun, too, and I don’t have to apologize for it. I can do Zumba or chat with my friends, and my children can play with theirs. The beauty of the Mothers’ Center is that it helps with the stress instead of adding to it – crazy, I know!! Another thing that I love about the center is that there are so many different types of women coming together, and in most cases, it feels like the center offers something for everyone.
Our Vision: Create and foster a community of support for all moms.
Meet our Leadership Team
Co-chairs: Allison Murray, Melissa Bernstein
My name is Allison Murray. I’ve been with the Mothers’ Center since the spring of 2014. I am the mother of two girls. The Center was a big help to me when I was new to motherhood – the friendships I made and experiences I learned from helped me become a more confident mom. I am a architect part-time, mom full time, and a co-chair in my spare time. I enjoy volunteering with the Center both as a way to give back and to ensure that this group keeps running well into the future as it gave me so much and would like to pay it forward.
My name is Melissa Bernstein and I joined the Mothers’ Center in the Spring of 2017. I am a mom of two and the Operations Director at Literacy New Jersey. As a new mom, I was searching online for a group of local moms to bond with, learn from and enjoy motherhood with, when my sister-in-law introduced me to the Mothers’ Center. I started out volunteering on the 5k fundraising committee and after that first year I knew I wanted to spend more time with the women I met and give back to our community. I’m thankful to have found a group of caring, thoughtful, hard-working and loving women who I can now call my very good friends.
Treasurer: Allison Pereira
My name is Allison Pereira and I became a member of the Mothers’ Center in September of 2016 shortly after my first son was born. My sister in law had recommended it as a low key way to get out and regain a sense of self amid the haze of early motherhood. It was so nice to be able to bring my baby along to anything! Now I enjoy the opportunity to keep up with other moms through mom’s nights, discussion groups, playground meet ups and walking groups. I am a former commercial litigation paralegal and current stay at home mom to two amazing boys.
Secretary: Trina Junod
I joined the center in early 2017 after the birth of my first son. The center has brought so much to our lives. Moving here from P.A. and the shift from wife to mom has been a pleasure because of the experiences that my sons and I have had since joining, and that is why I am volunteering to be a part of the leadership team. As a secretary I support the co-chairs and all the functions within the group (e.g., updating our events calendar, organizing our monthly planning meetings).
Where is the Mother’s Center?
Due to COVID-19, we have moved all activities online. Please reach out for more information.
Usually, we would host regular daytime activities at the Garwood Presbytarian Church, with off-site activities at parks, playgrounds or local businesses.
History of our Mother’s Center
After reading an article in a sociological journal about a Mothers’ Center on Long Island, Carol Goodman advertised in the Suburban News, searching for women interested in starting a local Mothers’ Center. Five women met in July of 1978. At that time, no one but the moms themselves seemed to understand that motherhood comes with isolation and frustration as well as joy. Through peer-facilitated discussion groups, moms could share their experiences with other moms in a trusting, respectful environment.
In February of 1979, the Mothers’ Center of Central New Jersey welcomed members with a workshop at the Scotch Plains Library on the “Stress of Motherhood.” Thereafter, evening groups met in a members’ homes. During the second year workshops and groups were held at the Westfield Public School Administration Building. That same year we sponsored an all-day conference entitled “Mother Care: Viewing Motherhood as a Growth Experience,” a dramatic outreach to the community.
In June of 1980, in affiliation with the Westfield Y, we began offering daytime groups and childcare. Our membership doubled. Mothers’ Center of Central New Jersey (MCCNJ) became incorporated in 1984. In 1985, MCCNJ received a $10,000 grant to begin an on-site babysitting program and we moved to the Crescent Ave. Presbyterian Church in Plainfield. Also in 1985, our semi-annual kids’ stuff consignment sale started as the major fundraiser for rent, insurance, and babysitting. Our membership boomed to over 100 women. As an all-volunteer cooperative, it was difficult to keep up with the growing need while still fulfilling the mission.
After a 6-year search for a new home, MCCNJ moved in 2004 to Cranford United Methodist Church and then in 2006 to Trinity Episcopal Church. In 2008, MCCNJ moved to Garwood Presbyterian Church where we have enjoyed a comfortable balance between nurturing our members and reaching out to others. After three decades of growth and change, MCCNJ continues to serve yet another generation of moms.