In Durham, the go-to, judgment-free place for questions about raising kids is the SoDu Parents Posse, a Facebook group composed of more than 5,000 members. Queries range from how to help preschoolers make friends to what to do when a toddler swallows dental floss. The site’s founder is Kat Benson, a 37-year-old former preschool art teacher and mother of Elliot, 8, and Ruby, 5, who both attend Central Park School for Children. “And we just got a new dog, Chance,” Kat says. “He’s a Golden Retriever/Aussie mix.” Since 2007, Kat and husband, Randy, have lived in the Parkwood neighborhood in – where else? – south Durham.
“In 2012, I was working at a preschool in Raleigh and our parent company shut us down. I became a stay-at-home parent, unexpectedly. I joined some moms’ groups but didn’t feel a connection. So I thought, why don’t I just create a Facebook group where I can say, ‘Hey, I’m having a hard time’? It’s a gift I gave myself because I needed a community.
It’s been one of the most amazing experiences of my life. What people realize when they ask questions is that they’re not alone, and that we all have something to offer. We can say, ‘I’ve been there. I’ve had those sleepless nights and, mama, you’ll get through it.’
Another thing I’m proud of [is] being an activist organization. I suffered from a postpartum hemorrhage when I had my daughter. With our blood drives, we’ve now saved 1,000 lives. Social workers will come to us and say, ‘I have a new client, and she has no beds,’ and people will donate. And I lead 25 5-year-olds in the SoDu [Girl Scout] Troop.
The next thing [for me] is thinking about the bigger picture. I’m not saying I’m going to run for city council … but I like saying, ‘Let’s all come together.’ It’s neat to be able to really participate in making our city as great as it can be.”