RIDGEFIELD PARK, N.J. – Two working moms broke down the community communication walls last summer by putting the power of social media to work.
A year later, the Ridgefield Park Moms Facebook group has 670 members swapping insider information for the best restaurants, community events, doctors, babysitters and more.
"We have moms come up to us all the time to thank us for creating the page. They’ve made friends, shared photos, swapped stories, and supported each other. The response has been incredible,” said Joyce Essig-Bachtler, 33, who co-founded the page with her sister Elaine Marin, 36.
Marin's daughters are seven and two; Essig-Bachtler also has a two-year-old daughter.
"The little ones are three weeks apart. Being pregnant together brought us closer together," Essig-Bachtler said.
Members can post questions and promote town news, events, fundraisers, and information about schools, sports, arts and other activities.
The only rule is keeping posts fun, light and positive. The co-founders do not tolerate hearsay or negativity on the page.
The longtime residents and working moms launched the virtual community to learn more about real life in Ridgefield Park. But they also needed to distract themselves with something positive. Their father Tom, a longtime resident and Ridgefield Park Board of Recreation Treasurer, died of cancer last summer.
"Losing him suddenly to cancer was the driving force behind the page and the way I handle it," Marin said. "I'm fair, but I don't take any nonsense either. I'm the bad cop, while Joyce is the good cop. She posts events and more lighthearted questions and comments. I deal with the tougher topics, like the school board and other town politics."
The RP Moms page has played a role in driving up attendance at local events like Sleepy Tales Story Time and Multicultural Potluck Night but more important, it brings together those in need.
The group has helped collect and deliver supplies for relief organizations, raise funds for various local causes and organize events like crocheting classes and movie night.
“We started this page from the ground up and never expected it to take off so fast or to impact the community the way it has," Marin said. "The page has reinvigorated everyone’s love of Ridgefield Park and all the town has to offer.
"I quote Hellen Keller in our mission statement – ‘Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.’ And this rings true for our page,” Marin said. “We created the page, but it really belongs to all of the RP moms to use and enjoy."