Story by Ammie Bryant, photos provided by Katie Lewis
When Lissette Minges and her husband Justin Minges moved back to Stillwater in 2011 from Indiana, Lissette said they “weren’t certain that Stillwater was a stopping place, but we realized that what we had always described as what we wanted for a home to raise our kids was here in Stillwater. So we decided we wanted to invest in Stillwater.”
Lissette Minges grew up in Oklahoma and her husband, Justin, had attended high school in the state too. They met while attending Oklahoma State University before moving to Indiana for five years. They moved back to Stillwater to be closer to family when their oldest child, Oliver, was born. It was here that they had two more children, Milo and Kalliope.
The first place Lissette went back to work after being a stay-at-home mom was Fenton’s Office Mart. It was within this supportive family atmosphere that Lissette decided to pursue her passion for helping women “in the trenches of motherhood.” She decided to strike out on her own to open a business that supported mothers and their infants.
Lissette discovered her passion for helping women when she was in need of support after the loss of their triplets. In particular she became a breastfeeding advocate as a result of what she learned while her two of her newborn babies were in the NICU. The nurses explained to Lissette that breast milk—in particular colostrum—was like “liquid gold” because it is full of antibodies and high in protein but has less carbohydrates and fats. It helps build the immunity system. So Lissette pumped to provide the much needed nourishment for her newborns in the intensive care unit. When her babies did not survive, Lissette was left with a supply of unused breast milk that she was advised she could donate to other needy newborns who might not have access to their own mother’s milk.
Fascinated by the science, Lissette became a proponent of the benefits of breastfeeding. Three years ago she became involved with the La Leche league, which provides breastfeeding support to mothers. Today she is working towards becoming a Certified Breastfeeding Counselor.
In Stillwater, Lissette came to know more women in the “birth world” community through the local La Leche League and Birth Connections which is a grassroots effort founded by locals, Tori Caswell and Amy Townsend. As Lissette became more involved in the community she began to realize that there were a variety of overlapping needs that were not being met and not all women have the kind of support that she had found. Mothers were leaving Stillwater to go to Oklahoma City or Tulsa to pursue services they could not find locally.
Lissette wondered, “What if we had one place where people could go to have services met. A one stop shop sort of resource.”
Dragonfly Village was born with a mission to educate and empower the community to meet the birth and early childhood needs of local families locally.
“I never want anyone to feel alone. I want women to feel they have support. They aren’t alone in the trenches of motherhood.”
Dragonfly Village provides a collective of services for parents to draw upon for “support and strength to ensure the health and happiness of our families.” Lissette says that learning to be a parent is like going through a job training where moms and their partners are presented with literature to read and videos to watch but it is not the same as the on the job training they receive in the moment or from fellowship with parents who have gone through or are going through the same challenges.
“Learning to be a parent is on the job training,” said Lissette.
Joining Lissette in the collective are seven additional women including Birth Photographer Katie Lewis, Postpartum Doula Laken Shipley, Birth Doula Kylee Abel, Diagnostic Medical Sonographer Brittney Bay, Licensed Massage Therapist Jamie Euteneuer, Prenatal and Family Nutritionist Mollie Smith, and Pranayama Yoga Instructor Vandana Jaiswal. In addition to 3D and 4D ultrasound packages, Britney Bay runs The Treehouse, a convenient and fun drop off play zone in downtown Stillwater. The Treehouse offers hourly parent free play for when parents have an appointment, need to shop, or just want to enjoy a quiet cup of coffee.
Dragonfly Village also offers classes on pregnancy, birth, and parenting. For now, the focus is on infancy through preschool ages but Lissette says there is a possibility of expanding parenting support and classes to families with older children going through the challenging pre-adolescent and adolescent phases.
Dragonfly Village is located at 112 W. 8th Ave and is open Monday through Friday 9am to 2:30pm. To learn more about Dragonfly Village, visit http://www.dragonflyvillage.mom or call 405-385-9295.