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It takes a virtual village

Neighbors: Profiles of our community

Kihei resident Jaylon Hansen oversees the Maui Mommies Main Group, a Facebook group that gives parents and caregivers a place to connect and exchange kid-related advice, recommendations and support. Photo courtesy Jaylon Hansen

Have you ever moved to a new city or town? Maybe you felt instantly at home. Or maybe it took some time to adjust.

Jaylon Hansen knows what it’s like to start over in a new place. Twelve years ago, she moved from Oahu to Maui with her husband and infant son. As anyone can imagine, navigating motherhood while finding your footing in a new community isn’t always easy.

But two of Hansen’s neighbors, Maile Vreekan and Josh Nagai, smoothed the transition when they invited her to join a Facebook group they’d created to coordinate play groups for their young son. The idea behind the members-only group, Maui Mommies, was to provide a forum for parents and promote family-friendly networking, field trips, gatherings and other kid-centric activities islandwide.

And it offered something else, too: a sense of community. As a newcomer, Hansen says Maui Mommies helped her feel more at home and opened doors to new friendships (something it continues to do for others today).

Vreekan and Nagai moved to the Mainland in 2010. Before they left, they asked Hansen if she’d take the reins as the page’s administrator. She enthusiastically agreed.

At the time, the group had about 30 members. Today, the Maui Mommies Main Group (so renamed to accommodate any future subgroups) has more than 10,000 members.

Now a mother of three, Hansen has been overseeing the Facebook group on a near-daily basis for a decade. Technology, social media and members’ needs have evolved over the years, but one thing remains the same.

“We come together to connect for the good of our children,” she said.

Curious about Little League registration? Looking to off-load a gently used Pack n Play? Need some potty training tips? Post your query and a fellow member will answer or point you in the right direction.

The group isn’t reserved for new moms on the block — or moms for that matter. Its members include moms, dads, grandparents, aunties, uncles and caregivers. They come from all walks of life, but have two things in common: All have a connection to Maui and play a role in raising children.

You don’t have to be a mom to join, but you do have to follow the group rules, which are enumerated on the page. Among them: Solicitors can post services or items for sale only once a month. Any negative or wildly off-topic posts will be swiftly deleted. And members must abide by Facebook’s own community standards.

Beyond its utility as a resource hub, the group page is an inclusive, supportive and judgment-free space. It’s arguably social media at its best: Members connect with one another and help each other out, routinely offering advice (recent posts include tried-and-true remedies for morning sickness and how to safely dispatch a marauding centipede) and words of comfort and encouragement.

Overseeing a group of 10,000-plus can be a time-consuming volunteer gig, but Hansen says it’s 100 percent worth it. Like so many others, she said, “Moms want to connect. This gives them a place to do that.”

To join the Maui Mommies Main Group, visit https://www. facebook.com/groups/mauimommies.

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