‘Haddonfield Parents’ a forum for collaboration, support

Haddonfield resident and mother to two Megan York Parker has seen her “Haddonfield Parents” Facebook page take on a life of its own as the community gets engaged.

When Megan York Parker and her family moved to Haddonfield in 2012, she didn’t know anyone, and in the tight-knit community, she felt a bit out of the loop. Today, Parker has created and cultivated a resource for both parents who are new to town as well as established residents to share updates and connect via her “Haddonfield Parents” Facebook page, which has more than 700 members.

The “Haddonfield Parents” page started as a forum to exchange information about events in town and resources for local parents. However, it has transformed into something more, Parker said, with parents arranging playdates, lost items being located and runaway pets found.

“I’m trying to maintain a tone of collaboration and support,” Parker said.

It all started when Parker moved to town around the time her eldest son was 3 and starting preschool. She wanted to get both him and herself involved in the community, but without knowing anyone in town, she wasn’t sure how to go about doing so.

“I think that it can feel, when you first move in, like you’re the only new face,” Parker said.

So she set out on a journey of self education. With a voracious hunger for knowledge, Parker began reading every local flier, publication and resource she could get her hands on.

Parker, who owns a public relations consulting business, MYP Communications, began attending events in town in hopes of networking with fellow parents, but she would often find, in discussing the events the next day, other parents weren’t hearing about these events. So she got to wondering how she might help facilitate networking for other parents who were feeling out of the loop as well.

With that, Parker created “Haddonfield Parents” in 2015. She said the group started small with around 30 members and has since boomed. She said it was by chance, really, the group was able to pull two schools’ worth of parents from the beginning.

When the family first moved to town, circumstances had them temporarily renting a home for a few months in the section that had would have had her son attending Elizabeth Haddon Elementary School. However, when the family moved into their home where they live now, her son began attending J. Fithian Tatem Elementary School. Having met parents who kids filtered into both schools made all the difference when getting the page started, as it enabled her to reach a larger cross section of parents, Parker said.

The group multiplied through word of mouth. Parker said she and her fellow parents began adding friends to the private group and began exchanging information.

“What I love most about the group [is] the rich relationships I’ve personally formed and those my group has helped cultivate in the community,” Parker said.

She said the dues-free group is not about monetary gain, and as the page’s administrator, she strongly discourages any kind of sales solicitation. On any given day, parents post questions about happenings at the schools, communicate information about local sports team or solicit advice about the best doctors in the area with others in the group commenting to provide feedback.

To weed out the strays, anyone wanting to join has to answer three questions before getting approved: What street do you live on? What are the ages of your kids? Do you agree not to advertise?

Parker said this method has ensured the page has remained a community forum.

Within the community of Haddonfield, Parker said the page has given her a small degree of notoriety. She said people get excited when they learn that she’s responsible for “Haddonfield Parents.”

“It’s a really weird phenomenon for me,” Parker said with a good-natured laugh. “I’ve made a lot of really good friends.”

More importantly, however, Parker said the page has given her a sense of fulfillment. She said when she sees parents arranging playdates for their children who are apprehensive about going into a new school without knowing anyone, she feels enriched.

“I love Haddonfield,” Parker said. “This is one way to serve our community while I raise my children, by disseminating information and helping other parents.

Anyone in Haddonfield is welcome to join the page as long as they are respectful of others, Parker said. To join the “Haddonfield Parents” page, visit https://www.facebook.com/groups/795236157207190/