They deliver meals to new mothers. They arrange play dates for their children. They exchange tips on cooking and child care, and share recommendations on plumbers, painters and pet sitters. They promote their businesses. And they meet up for the occasional moms’ night out.
Best of all, they do it all without drama.
They are the Real Housewives of Loudoun County.
These housewives are members of a rapidly growing Facebook group started by three Ashburn women in February to provide a network of support for women in Loudoun. Within three months, the group had more than 1,500 members.
Rachael Little, 31, conceived of the group as a way to meet other women. Having moved to Loudoun in August, she did not know many people in the area. She floated the idea of a Facebook group to two of her friends, Kimmy Ngo and Roxce Castillo, and jokingly suggested the name “Real Housewives of Loudoun County” as a tongue-in-cheek nod to the over-the-top series of reality television shows.
“We were joking about it, saying that it would be nice if we had [a social group] that didn’t have drama,” Little said. “And so far, we haven’t.”
The name “started as a joke and just stuck,” she said.
“The only rule we have is that there’s no drama, no negativity,” Ngo said. “Be respectful of each other’s opinions. We have no problem removing someone from the group if they can’t be respectful,” Ngo said.
“We want women to be comfortable in our group and be able to share anything they want to,” Castillo said.
The three founders, who serve as the Facebook group’s administrators, decided that the best way to give women that comfort level was to limit the membership to women. Not all of the group members have children, and some are single mothers, Little said. Many have jobs outside the home. But there are no men in the group.
“It’s a good way for us to be able to communicate, share, even vent if you have to [and] ask personal questions without having to worry if there is someone listening,” Little said. “It’s a nice, closed community for women, and we want to keep it that way.”
The group is accepting new members, she said, and is growing by about 500 members every month.
Several members said the focus on providing a supportive community is what they like best about the group.
The best thing is “absolutely the support for one another,” Kathy Minerly of Leesburg said.
Members deliver meals for new mothers for the first couple of weeks after their newborns are taken home, she said. They also provide meals for people who are going through “some sort of recovery, whether it may be physical recovery from surgery or financial recovery.”
Stacey Betancourt-Jensen of Round Hill also singled out support as the most important benefit of the group. “And also the fact that . . . everybody knows someone or something. You can always go to someone and say, ‘Who’s a good pediatrician in the area?’ It’s a good reference group. It’s just been incredibly supportive.”
Betancourt-Jensen said she recently considered eliminating gluten from her diet, so she asked the group for advice on how to do it. “And I got so much support on how people started becoming
gluten-free,” she said. “I knew what I had to do after that. It was a good avenue to learn.”
Many of the members’ posts seek advice on service providers, including lawn, home improvement and cleaning services, as well as yoga classes and airbrush tanning. Recent requests for veterinarian and primary care physician recommendations elicited more than 20 responses each.
“I am terrified of the dentist,” Little said. “I moved here last summer and I am not familiar with the businesses in the area.” So she turned to the group for recommendations. “And I’ve been able to find a dentist for my family that we feel comfortable with and so far we like a lot.”
Others have used the social network to get advice on parenting issues, such as how long a child should use a car booster seat and what to do when one finds a tick on a child.
Many of the members use the site to promote their businesses, which are commonly based in their homes. This motivated Ngo to organize a “life and style expo” in Leesburg on May 18. She said that hundreds of women attended the event, which had about 50 vendors offering products and services such as jewelry, baked goods, beauty products, sewing classes and photography.
Sometimes members use the page to arrange get-togethers, whether an impromptu “moms’ night out” or an informal party at a member’s house. Minerly said she especially enjoys “threading” parties, where members “get our eyebrows threaded or get a unique henna tattoo while we sip on wine, and enjoy getting to know one another. It’s a great way to make friends.”
Minerly said that the group’s administrators do a wonderful job keeping the group low-key and free of “mean-girl attitude.”
“There is no table flipping, backstabbing or hair-pulling within this group of housewives,” she said.
Jim Barnes is a freelance writer.