“A mommy movement…” (as published in the Star News.)

By Jessica Toomer
StarNews Correspondent

Published: Tuesday, February 8, 2011 at 1:28 p.m.
Link to story.

The moms are rising in the Wilmington area, and their movement is being pushed by two ordinary women with an extraordinary vision.

“Women in the Center” is a new nonprofit organization with an inspiring mission: to bring together the women of the Cape Fear community.

Heading the project are Sylvia Santaballa and Ryanna Battiste, two moms who are advocating change by creating an organization dedicated to providing information on resources available to women in their area.

“We hope to become the nexus that brings women the information they need,” says Battiste, co-director of the group.

The center had its launch party in January, but this isn’t the first organization for women that Santaballa and Battiste have been involved in.

“The idea for Women in the Center really began after we created ‘Where’s My Midwife,’?” Santaballa explained. “Our goal then was to increase women’s access to midwives through hospitals and educate them on different aspects of the birthing process.”

The initiative has now grown to include assisting women of all ages through Women in the Center.

“We want to be the forum where women can come to for support at any stage of their life,” says Santaballa.

Currently, the center is focusing on the trials of motherhood. Until they have a physical space, they will be hosting a twice-monthly “Breastfeeding Cafe” at Wrightsville Bean Co., 5032 Wrightsville Ave., beginning at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 9.

The Café is aimed at normalizing breastfeeding and helping women feel comfortable nursing,” says Battiste.

It helps that both women have experienced the problems they’re trying to help other women deal with.

“It’s hard being a mom,” Battiste admits.

And because many women don’t have a strong network of family close by, the child-rearing years can be a struggle, especially for first-time moms.

“We want to give women a chance to connect with each other and form a community that they can turn to in times of need,” Santaballa says.

Both women have big dreams for the center, but to accomplish them they need financial support.

“Our goal is to have a physical space where women can go for a variety of things,” Santaballa says.

They hope to one day have a place that offers a variety of programs such as empowerment classes for teens, a birthing center and staff, counseling, and wellness and nutrition programs.

Their next fundraising event will be a Mardi Gras party at 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 19, at Crow Hill, 9 S. Front St.

“It’s free of charge but we’ll be having a silent auction and of course donations are welcome,” Santaballa says.

Santaballa and Battiste are excited about the prospect of building a strong foundation of sisterhood in the area.

“We’re just at the beginning of a journey,” Battiste says. “The sky’s the limit.”