OKMULGEE, Okla. – The Estuce Fest was held at the Okmulgee Community Center on Sep. 13. The event provided resources and gifts for first-time pregnant mothers and parents of an infant 12 months or younger. The event provided door prizes, diaper bag kits, and served dinner.
The Mvskoke Tribal Child and Youth Coalition committee, various departments and volunteers assisted in hosting the event.
Each registrant was provided a diaper bag starter kit, which included items including diapers, baby wash, and wipes.
Mvskoke Nation Youth Services Specialist Shania Bender (Mvskoke) helped organize the event. Throughout the evening there was a presentation, guest speakers, and games. Bender wanted the mothers to reach out for help if they were in need. One of the event’s main goals was to bring in resource booths that the mothers may have been unfamiliar with that could help them in the future.
The resources included MCN Center for Victim Services, MCN Children and Family Services, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), as well as the MCN Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program.
“I hope that the first time mothers feel supported, that they feel they have resources to feel confident on whatever choices and decisions that they make,” Bender said. “I definitely want them to reach out just to feel supported.”
Muscogee (Creek) Nation Royal Coordinator LuAnn Bear (Mvskoke), who helped assist this event as well, said she is glad this event can help provide first-time mothers with support. “They’re not all just young mothers, it’s any age mother, it’s their first time and you don’t know what to do or don’t know what the tribe offers you,” Bear said.
Bender grew up beyond the reservation. She had never been to an event like this, the community she grew up in did not provide this type of resource. She is grateful for MCN and the help they provide for young families.
Bender noticed first-time parents are not always aware of available tribal resources, especially if they reside in rural areas. Estuce Fest is designed to be as accessible as possible to young parents. “It’s just a good way to get everyone to come together for the evening, no matter where they live,” Bender said. “It is in the evening so no one has to miss work for the most part.”
MCN Prevention Specialist for Native Connection Grant Jasmyne Jack (Mvskoke) mentioned that the Estuce Fest was an event initially organized by the Mvskoke Tribal Child and Youth Coalition (TCYC) committee, which is comprised of different departments and agencies. This includes the tribe, state and cities that all come together to support local communities in need.
The Estuce Fest is an event that has served families for nearly a decade. “I believe it was close to 10 years, we just wanted to do something to give back like TCYC did,” said Jack. “We did our assessment years ago and the help with child care or family’s expenses was one of the top things.”
According to Jack they have always met their max: 75 participants.