WESTWOOD, N.J. — Annie Joachim wanted nothing more than to find friends to join her at Westwood's playgrounds when she launched Bergen County Moms Facebook group in 2013.
Last Christmas, she found herself standing outside of a cancer-stricken East Rutherford family's window days before Christmas surrounded by dozens of Bergen County residents she'd rallied together on the page.
It was the second year in a row that Joachim had turned the BC Moms forum into a platform to help a local family in a major way, and not what she'd intended to do with the group.
But she's sure glad things turned out as they did.
“I get thank you emails more than daily because these women feel like they found a safe place to vent, talk, ask for advice and not be judged," Joachim said. “The outpouring of support you get from this community is unbelievable."
Joachim had just moved to Westwood from New York City with her husband, Mike Joachim, and newborn, Charlotte, when she created the page.
The board was slow to warm up but Joachim eventually found what she was looking for — and then some.
Bergen County Moms boasts 105000 users — with 2,000 pending approval — who take to the discussion board for just about anything.
“Diagnoses, vomiting, you name it,” said Joachim, a mother of two girls.
Managing the group paired with looking after two youngsters demands a serious chunk of Joachim's time. But, she said, it pays dividends.
“I can’t imagine not having [the group],” said Joachim, who ordinarily monitors her page several times daily.
“I think we’re really fortunate, living in Bergen County surrounded by these strong and awesome women,” she said.
The Bergen County Moms page has given the mother a claim to fame both on television and in play groups.
"I've learned to love being stopped and recognized," said Joachim, who was given a free Starbucks drink and a "thank you" from a member last month. "My oldest [Charlotte. 2.5] always says, 'Do you know mama from the board?'"
But the group has brought Joachim richer rewards.
"It feels great to have a board that women love so much and better yet benefit from so much," she said.
“I wanted to feel comfortable and I made friends — so I’m happy.”