Corporate Sponsorship / Event Planning Coordinator, Shanghai Mamas
What is your career background and what brought you to Shanghai?
Before coming to Shanghai I worked in Health Care in Massachusetts, Virginia, Maryland, DC and Ohio. I educated families on the benefits of Assisted Living, Alzheimer's Care, Mental Health and Rehabilitation. Immediately prior to our move I worked in Hospice, teaching continuing education classes to nurses and social workers while providing education and support to families exploring supportive care options.
What is Shanghai Mamas and how did you get involved with them?
The first year we moved to Shanghai I felt a little lost, while trying to find my footing as a recently unemployed “house wife” (first time I saw this title was on my medical paperwork, I almost dropped it in a puddle). While looking at various employment opportunities we received news I was pregnant. I now had another new title, Mom! I was overjoyed but had no idea where to find information regarding pregnancy and child rearing in Shanghai. A friend of mine introduced me to Shanghai Mamas and it was there I found not only all the information I would need as a new parent, but also my ayi, my doctor, my hospital and all the baby essentials that can be helpful in the first year.
Tell us about the work you do for Shanghai Mamas
My title is Corporate Sponsorship and Event Planning Coordinator. I plan fun and informative events for our parents, everything from wine tastings, health talks, playgroups, and spa days. We have coffee groups all across the city and an amazing book club our members look forward to every month.
On the Corporate side I work with well known organizations that cater to expats in Shanghai. Our Sponsors are from every industry imaginable, international schools, relocation, photography, health care, dental, travel and tourism, food and beverage, hospitality and online shopping. And it is our goal to share information regarding reputable businesses in Shanghai with our members.
On the community side we connect our members with various groups and philanthropies that do important work in Shanghai. Organizations like Baobei, Safe Haven, LifeLine, Stepping Stones, ARC Adoption Services, Ningxia Educations Support, and the Community Center Shanghai. It’s hard to think of what I do as work, Shanghai Mamas has always been a part of my Shanghai life and now I can give back to the community that helped me so much. I feel fortunate to work with an amazing group of moms and mentors, many who have been with Shanghai Mamas since the beginning.
How has working for Shanghai Mamas positively impacted your experience of living in Shanghai?
Working for Shanghai Mamas has made me realize what an amazingly supportive expat community exists in Shanghai. Shanghai Mamas provides parents the opportunity to come together to share information, discuss challenges, and share success stories in a safe and non-judgemental space. The support our organization provides to families is so vital.
It made a huge difference to me as a mom of a newborn in a foreign country and it continues to do so as I prepare my child to move into the Primary School Years in the Fall. Shanghai Mamas is where I go to learn about resources in the city, to make connections with other families, and it is where I have made most of my close friends that continue to be my family away from home.
What is something surprising you've learned about the community from working at Shanghai Mamas?
Shanghai Mamas has a rich history from a very grassroots beginning. When I joined Shanghai Mamas it was a huge group, and the "go-to" place in the city if you wanted to meet other parents. I had no idea it was founded by one mother who arrived in Shanghai 12 years earlier.
Lynda Quintana (an American mother) arrived in Shanghai in 2006 and quickly found that she was missing a social support system connecting her to other international families. Lynda set up a Yahoo Group for the purpose of setting up playdates and swapping clothes and there are stories about her chasing moms through CarreFour to get them to join her group! She was a mom on a mission to find support for her family and to connect other parents.
We are now 6000 registered members and growing! We have an Executive Board and a team of volunteers who work tirelessly to spread the Shanghai Mamas mission. It's inspiring to know that an organization widely recognized as the largest community for international families in Shanghai, came from such a humble beginning.
If you would like to reach Siobhan to learn more about Shanghai Mamas please contact her.
WeChat ID: SiobhanBrown
And check out: www.shanghaimamas.org