BURLINGTON — When Maggie Potter’s son joined the Navy last year, she turned to military moms on social media for solace.
“I joined so many Facebook pages, and I just sat there and read their stories,” Potter said.
As of June 12, military mothers in Skagit County have a local resource.
On Wednesday, at a set of tables outside Whidbey Coffee in Burlington, 10 women gathered to officially sign a charter to become a Blue Star Mothers of America chapter.
Cascade Middle School teacher Rochelle Pittis spearheaded the effort after seeing a gap in resources for Skagit County military moms.
“When my son went in, I knew a couple of moms, but I was kind of flying blind,” Pittis said.
Then, she discovered Blue Star Mothers, a nonpartisan organization devoted to supporting military mothers and their children in active service.
With nearly 5,800 members in more than 200 chapters across 38 states, the organization has helped mothers across the country as they acclimate to their new landscape.
“I wanted that for moms in the area,” Pittis said.
This is the first time since about 2015 that Blue Star Mothers has a Washington state chapter, said chapter member Sandy Ball, who was previously involved with a chapter in eastern Washington. The closest chapter to Skagit County is in Portland.
With the help of flyers and networking, Pittis, three board members and the chapter president were joined Wednesday by five other military mothers at Whidbey Coffee.
As the newcomers pulled up chairs, they were welcomed with wide smiles and invited into the casual banter.
“It’s just amazing to be a part of it,” Tera Boonstra said.
In times when one doesn’t know where their child is or what they’re doing, Blue Star Mothers of American National President Anne Parker said anxiety can be high.
“This is the only group of women I’ve ever met who truly know and understand,” Parker said via phone. “When you’re having a bad day, someone will be there to pick you up.”
As the meeting came to a close, mothers milled about outside, connecting with each other about PTSD, boot camp and their collective concerns for their children and families.
In the future, they’ll begin work on projects to support active duty service members and veterans.
“I’m really excited to be a part of this,” said Ball. “What a blessing.”
The chapter will meet next at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 14, at Whidbey Coffee in Burlington. Questions may be directed to the chapter board at firstname.lastname@example.org.
— UPDATED 6/14 to reflect the year the last group closed.