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Parenting Lounge gives way to child-friendly Mills

On Monday, Sept. 10, the Mills Parenting Lounge opened with a ceremonial ribbon cutting.

The Parenting Lounge, which opened in the former Mary Atkins Glass Lounge, is the result of a year long struggle by the Mothers’ Club for an on-campus child-friendly space for parents and their children.

Those behind the lounge are breaking new ground in working toward making Mills more child and parent friendly.
Senior Aki Raymer, one of the managers of the space, sees the lounge as the starting point of the parenting community at Mills – a place that she did not see as being a traditionally welcoming space for parents.

“I want to stress what a big deal it is and how exciting the opening of this lounge is,” she told The Campanil over the phone. “Mills is an all-women’s college only makes sense that an all-women’s college should have a place for mothers, and we’re excited to see what this lounge is going to grow into.”

Another important figure behind the Parenting Lounge is Maricruz Alvarado, a sophomore Biology major who made up half of the team that worked to create the lounge. She was honored at the ceremony for her efforts as President of the Mothers’ Club, and for working with parenting student Suzanne Permanna last year to make Mills more child-friendly.

Permanna was also honored at the ceremony for being a founding member of the Mothers’ Club and for working with Maricruz last year to bring about the lounge.

“The Mothers’ Club, which we started last year, was the first step,” Alvarado said. “This space was the next.”

Alvarado and Permanna said they faced a difficult and stressful challenge last year – they were the only members of the Mothers’ Club during its first semester – and they said they did not receive support from the administration in creating the Parenting Lounge.

“The administration, when we approached them, said: ‘You do it,'” said Alvarado, describing how she was charged with the tasks of locating a suitable space for the lounge, finding support, and creating a collective of parents who would use the space.

Now that the lounge is officially opened, however, Alvarado seems almost overwhelmed with her success. “It’s more than we expected,” she said. “It’s a work in progress, but I think it shows that the more parenting students get together, the more we can do.”

Morning Star Gali, a fellow parenting student, reaps the benefits of the Mothers’ Club’s hard work.

“When I started at Mills, I was really surprised by the lack of resources – there was no support,” she said, “but I’m so thrilled that we have this space now.”

The Parenting Lounge, with its soft, round pink chair in front of a television, piles of children’s books, bins of toys and walls lined with animal drawings, is a space where Mills mothers can allow their children to play without worrying.

“This is really a great option for me – I can get work done here, which I can’t seem to do at home, and I don’t have to worry about getting dirty looks from other students trying to work,” she said, as her daughter Telissa played loudly and contentedly in the background.

Everyone involved with the Parenting Lounge stresses that the lounge will only become an important resource with the help of the community.

“If you are a parent, we need your help. If each parent does a little bit, we can make this happen,” Alvarado said. “It only happened because more than two people came together.”

According to the Lounge manager Raymer, mothers can help out by being present in the lounge, attending lounge meetings and helping her and, co-manager, Yen Do, plan family friendly events that will ultimately help to make the lounge known on campus.

Hanging on the wall of the lounge is a wish list citing needs like a mini-fridge, child-size tables and chairs, an easel, and changing pads and diapers.

Though the lounge is still in need of quite a few items before it is running as smoothly as possible, the lounge members still remain optimistic.

“This is really very exciting for us,” Raymer said. “There’s a small community of parents at Mills and I think it’s going to grow. This can only help.”

To obtain a key to the lounge, parents should contact Housing Management and Dinning Services.