When Massapequa resident Dawn Boyle Kostakis created the “Massapequa Moms Group” on Facebook in 2011, it was comprised of only a few close friends.
“It was to send each other fake Tupperware invites, so we could go out at night,” said Boyle Kostakis, 43, a mother of two.
But in March 2012, a tragic event prompted Boyle Kostakis to expand her circle of Facebook friends. Another Massapequa mother and friend, Ellen Meany, 45, was fatally injured when she was hit by a car while cycling in the neighborhood. The driver left the scene.
So Boyle Kostakis posted a photo of the suspect’s vehicle to her group, and as the image circulated through the social network, requests from other local moms wanting to join poured in.
Then, months later, when superstorm Sandy pummeled the Massapequas, an even larger surge of requests came in as the group became, for many, the best way to share information and coordinate relief efforts.
“It became a lifeline,” she said.
Now, 6,698 members strong — as of Monday morning — and still growing, the Massapequa Moms Group has become a force to be reckoned with. Together, the members have raised tens of thousands of dollars to help local charities and individual families in need.
In January, their second annual Rock the Riv party drew more than 200 attendees and brought in $4,000, which they donated to the family of a Massapequa mom who died earlier that month.
“We rally,” Boyle Kostakis said. “That’s what Massapequa does.”
And when the group learned another local mother was about to have her leg amputated, they quickly pulled together a school supplies drive to get her child outfitted for the school year.
“The outpouring was insane,” she added.
A sister Facebook page called Massapequa Mommas Market also serves as a sort of digital yard sale for local residents to buy, sell or donate gently used children’s clothes, toys, home goods and other products.
“I’ve had a mom tell me, ‘If it wasn’t for this page, I’d have to leave my children to go work somewhere part time,’” said Laura Pelly, who administers the group with Danielle Marotti, a fellow Massapequa resident still displaced from her home because of Sandy.
Over the years, Boyle Kostakis said she’s been approached by “consultants” wanting to monetize her group or sell Massapequa Moms-branded merchandise and wine, but she has turned them away.
The group is also a place for moms to ask for advice and recommendations, sound off on local issues (or complain about the ugly camel crickets infiltrating their homes), and share other information. Sure, there’s the occasional bickering. But right now, there is a prayer chain taking place for a local family.
“Massapequa Moms is all about getting together and serving our community more powerfully,” said Eileen Healy-Minogue, who uses the group to advance the charity work she does.
Pelly said there was no resource like the moms group when she was raising her kids.
“We brought our kids up with an isolation that you ladies will never have to experience,” she said. “Social media can take a nasty turn, but you really have a connection here that’s endearing and empowering.”