Organization starts program in remembrance of founder

Monday, March 3, 2008
Danna Lape, founder of Jackson Mothers of Preschoolers. (Submitted photo)

In remembrance of her death a year ago, the founder of the group Jackson Mothers of Preschoolers has been memorialized through the creation of a program called Bibles for Babies.

Founder Danna Lape died Feb. 26, 2007, and after her death, memorials were sent to the group in Lape's name. Co-coordinators Jackie Dameron and Misti Laws thought presenting Bi-bles to "Danna's babies," with a dedication inside that remembers Lape's love for the children and families she cared about, was a good way to keep her memory alive.

Laws and Dameron would like to expand the program.

Part of the inscription reads, "Miss Danna was a spunky woman with a love of many things, but most of all she loved her 'babies.' With three of her own she still found room for all her adopted ones throughout her career."

Jackson Mothers of Preschoolers was formed in May 2005 to provide supportive relationships for mothers who shared the commonality of raising preschoolers. The group of 35 mothers stays connected by meeting from 6 to 8:30 p.m. on the first Thursday of each month at First Presbyterian Church in Jackson.

The nondenominational group has Mentor Mothers -- whose children are beyond the preschool years -- who lead the groups and work to show members how to fulfill the varied roles of wife, mother and woman. Lape was the group's Mentor Mother.

Dameron said Lape was an advocate for children's literacy, and the idea of presenting Bibles to members' children was one they thought about but just never had the funding for.

"We're doing this because we know Danna would have wanted this," Laws said. "Danna was constantly telling stories about her husband, Tony, their three children and the process, trials and triumphs of raising them. She helped me to understand that all children are unique, have individual learning styles and that birth order does matter. She was very proud of all three of her children, there was no doubt."

"She was part of my family's life through our trials and tribulations and joys and jubilations," Laws said. "She was by our side when we lost loved ones in our families. She helped by providing us with literature that discussed how to talk to children about all kinds of things from births and welcoming new babies into our home to deaths, dying and how to say 'goodbye' to loved ones."

Lape promoted the need for a Mothers of Preschoolers group to the First Presbyterian Church at Jackson, where she was a member.

Lape, who was also a Parents as Teachers educator, knew a lot of the mothers before the group's formation because she had met them through the Parents as Teachers program. That program works to provide the information, support and encouragement parents need to help their children develop during the early years of life until the children enter kindergarten. Most programs are free of charge.

Misty Laws' sun, Baylee Laws, 6, one of Lape's former students, wrote, "I like Miss Danna. She is fun and she is cool. I wish she lived with us. I wish she stayed alive so she could keep on teaching kids about things. I really miss her."

Dameron, a stay-at-home mom, said that even though she grew up in the area, the feelings of isolation she experienced by not having contact with other mothers dealing with the same issues were something the group helped with. "I didn't know what to do with myself. I was a stay-at-home mom with a 22-month-old daughter, Madalyn, who is now 4."

For more information on Mothers of Preschoolers or Bibles for Babies, call Jackie Dameron at 243-5034 or Misti Laws at 204-0777.

cpagano@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 133

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