Kris Schneider was working from home as a conference coordinator when she got the idea to start a community hub for mothers.
The Elkridge resident and mother of Jackson, 14; Taylor, 11; and Ryan, 7, was active in her children’s schools and a regular visitor at county libraries and the Robinson Nature Center — Schneider says friends kept asking if she knew of free or low-cost children’s activities and inexpensive opportunities for mothers to socialize.
In response, she created the Howard County Moms Facebook page in 2011 to provide a central place for local parents to find a range of family-friendly resources and activities. Since then, the page has garnered more than 6,200 followers (and more than 1,000 on Twitter).
“This is something I wanted, so I thought other moms in Howard County must be looking for the same thing,” says Schneider, 43. “Why not help people out?”
The Howard County Moms page receives about 30 “likes” weekly, and six years later, she says, has become “a monster which runs itself” — growing organically.
Schneider’s friend and gym buddy, Christen Jones of Columbia, says she’s been onboard to help organize social events since the beginning.
“Our first happy hour at Union Jack’s drew upwards of 50 moms, and the word spread from there,” Jones says. “I’ve met some amazing friends and am so proud of what Kris has done.”
Ellicott City resident Becky Kenney has never met Schneider but has benefited from her handiwork. Kenney discovered Howard County Moms through a friend two years ago and won a Sky Zone birthday party for her then-13-year-old daughter, Lola, in a contest through the Facebook page.
“I’d never won anything, so it was absolutely a nice surprise,” Kenney says. “And I like to see what other parents are thinking and saying about activities in Howard County.”
Schneider says companies frequently offer her free samples and giveaways. The Sky Zone contest, through sharing, reached more than 20,000 readers; a random number generator was used to select the winner.
Perks of running the page have included tickets to Busch Gardens and Cirque du Soleil. In May 2015, Schneider was invited to attend the Maryland Office of Tourism’s Blogger Bash in Annapolis.
Schneider spends a lot of time on Facebook, devoting several hours each Sunday to administrating Howard County Moms. A “hot-button topic,” she says, is anything related to Howard County schools, including inclement-weather closings.
With no plans to slow down, Schneider says she’s considering growing a team of mother administrators from other counties to create a statewide network.
Facebook even inspired her, in part, to start her own business, Simply Contracts. Social media interactions with real estate agents revealed a market for professionals that process paperwork. Now, she works from home or from “anywhere.”
“I love Facebook,” she says. “I owe Mark Zuckerberg a drink or something.”