Meet the Leaders
Becky is a parent of 2 (Josie 12, Angus 8). Though her professional training as a Certified Nurse Midwife focused on the labor of birthing a baby, she soon realized there is a second and even harder labor: the labor of becoming a parent. This soon became her passion and Becky decided to dedicate a large portion of her work to creating a nurturing environment for mothers to get the support they need through the journey and labor of parenthood. This interest led her to become trained as a MotherWoman Peer Group facilitator and later as a Group Peer Support (GPS) facilitator. She co-founded the Whatcom Perinatal Mental Health Task Force and together with Samantha Konikoff founded the Village Circle. She cannot imagine a better match for her passions than supporting mothers by working to fight the unrealistic expectation society places on us. She is an avid reader, lifelong learner, and activist at heart.
Sam is a mom of 2 (9 &12). She met Becky in 2016 and they both knew that they wanted something more for moms in our community. Sam always wanted to give this community something she needed but never had. She does the work so that no one else has to go through motherhood alone. She had PPA/PPD/PPOCD with her first and it was isolating. She wants to keep making change locally as well as nationally to help parents see this doesn't need to be done alone.
Melissa is a patient advocate and dedicated volunteer for those who are struggling through Perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. Melissa attended her first support group, the Village Circle, 3 months after the birth of her son, Elliott. In the depths of postpartum anxiety, this is where she found the help and voice that she needed. A year later, Melissa attended the GPS training through Perinatal Support Washington, so she could give back to her community what was so valuable and life-changing for her in her early Motherhood journey. Through this, she has discovered her life commitment and passion to finding new ways to reach those who are struggling, and remind new parents that they aren't alone. And that they can be well. Melissa enjoys spending her time exploring with her family, knitting, and looking through books at the local bookstore.
Rhae is a mother to Everly (4 years old) and a brand new baby boy born in October 2021. She began attending Village Circle in 2018 when Everly was 3 months old, and soon became a regular face at the in-person groups. Rhae experienced severe postpartum anxiety, postpartum OCD, difficulty breastfeeding, and struggled with the intense transition into motherhood. The Village Circle offered a healing space, and a beautiful community of mothers. In 2019, Rhae attended training through Perinatal Support Washington and joined Samantha, Becky, and Melissa as a co-facilitator of the Village Circle. Rhae believes that it is a true honor to give back to the circle that brought her so much healing as a brand new mother. Rhae loves to explore the hidden beauties in nature, whether walking on a beach or exploring a new forest. She loves collecting plants, watercolor painting, and spending time on Orcas Island. Rhae is also a preschool teacher, and cannot imagine a world where she isn't dedicating her time and love to teaching young children. Rhae truly believes that the foundation of our society must be supported first -- new mothers and young children. She feels honored to witness the blossoming of both, and looks forward to being apart of the Village Circle for many years to come.
Dani is thrilled to be part of the Village Circle Collective & to positively impact new families in our community. She currently works for Postpartum Support International (PSI), supporting the Climb Out of the Darkness Event and its leaders worldwide, and is energized by co-leading Team Bellingham's Climb Out of the Darkness event in June. Additionally, she volunteers as a Mentor in PSI's Peer Mentor Program.
After becoming a mom in 2009, she would stumble through a thick fog of Postpartum Anxiety, Depression & OCD without telling a single soul. The catalyst for her involvement in perinatal mental health can be pinpointed to one pivotal moment, while listening to a podcast. A friend (& fellow leader Sam) recounted her transition to motherhood, including a debilitating battle with Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorders (PMADs). Dani was completely empowered by hearing someone speak their truth. While Sam's story was different than Dani's, she certainly could sympathize with the words her friend spoke. She discovered that there is strength in processing trauma and empowerment in sharing stories. If Sam's story could help her feel brave and less alone, then surely Dani’s story could help others as well.
Outside of this important work, Dani is mom to 3 rambunctious kids. If she’s not therapeutically weeding her garden, you’ll find her trail-running, hitting the slopes at Mt. Baker, daydreaming about future travels & sampling the tasty food-truck and microbrew scene at her home in Bellingham.
Melody is a mama of three kids. Her firstborn has a complex medical history and her first season of postpartum life was spent at Seattle Children's Hospital. Her next kiddo didn't sleep, requiring her to navigate working full time outside the home and intense nighttime mothering. Her last little one was born in the middle of the covid-19 pandemic. Her daughter's hard birth, the isolation of the pandemic, and the death of a dear friend created a postpartum that was exceptionally dark. She experienced significant anxiety and depression; it felt like the world had lost its color. At the time she didn't think she would ever feel better, but slowly with the support of therapy, medication, an extended maternity leave, and the Village Circle she began to find stability and color in her world again.
Melody joins the Village Circle facilitators with lived experience of three very different postpartum seasons, each difficult and yet special in their own way. She believes our stories matter and sharing them, even the hard parts, is healthy and can promote healing. Speaking these truths out loud together breaks down walls of silence, isolation, shame, and guilt giving room for authenticity, community and hope.
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