The Birth of the Village
It Takes a Village was founded by Cummington resident Maureen Shea in the fall of 2009 after the birth of her son. Her first six weeks as a mother were the most trying time she had ever experienced. But one afternoon, a good friend came over for a couple of hours, folded laundry, helped make dinner, and listened to Maureen share her truths. That visit and the comforting support it provided was a turning point for Maureen.
Maureen spoke with her midwives, Tanya Rapinchuk and Lucinda McGovern, about the extra support needed for families with newborns. Lucinda was already working to form a Brattleboro-based support network, following the model of Many Mothers based in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She sent a copy of the Many Mothers’ how-to guidebook to Maureen, who convened a committed group of fellow Hilltowners. Thus, the Village was born as a grassroots, community group of neighbors helping neighbors with newborns. The home visit program began and shortly thereafter the Village Closet was created. Today, It Takes a Village has two distinct branches — one in the Hilltowns of Western Massachusetts and one in Brattleboro, Vermont.
From 2012 to 2014, It Takes a Village was led by two Hilltown mothers, Anna Westley and Katy Eiseman. With support from St John’s Episcopal Church of Ashfield, weekly mother support groups were added to the list of free services for Hilltown families. In 2014, Anna and Katie passed the torch to a new leadership team made up of three local mothers who continue to carry on the mission and work of It Takes a Village.