Nikki Brooker describes herself as confident, able-bodied, a Type A personality. She has a master’s degree in education and taught various subjects in all grades for 20 years in school districts and colleges across the Denver metro area.
She had her first two children in 2000 and 2003. Though she never experienced postpartum depression or anxiety, motherhood took a toll on her mental health.
“It was a daunting task. There is nothing like it,” said Brooker, 43, who lives in Highlands Ranch. “The isolation and loneliness and unknown — the inability to be 100 percent your own person ever again.”
Brooker’s mother had recently died and her family lived out of state. She had no friends with kids. The isolation grew so overwhelming that in 2003 she moved her family to Ohio, to be closer to her sister-in-law and mother-in-law. There, she sought out a support group for moms. She found a preschool parent club with more than 250 mothers.
“It was the most amazing organization I had ever seen,” Brooker said. “You could go to a different event every day with your kid.”
Brooker and her family moved to Highlands Ranch in 2007. Inspired by what she had found in Ohio, she started a babysitting co-op to build a community of moms, which has grown to 30 members. And she connected with other moms at her gym and through local meet-ups.
In late 2016, tragedy struck at her children’s school, Bear Canyon Elementary. A fellow parent and mother shot and killed her two young sons before taking her own life.
“Being part of that community and watching the devastation of parents and families and the kids, I just went ‘Wow, this isn’t just affecting the family members, this is affecting people all over.’ ”
That was the catalyst for Brooker’s nonprofit organization, You Are Not Alone Mom 2 Mom (YANAM2M). She formed the support group for mothers in 2017. They meet weekly at locations around the community, such as Burn Boot Camp or Westridge Recreation Center.
Each mom is offered a “support mom,” who acts as a mentor and friend. Brooker’s mission is to create a space where moms feel safe, accepted and valued.
The group has grown to 35 moms and 35 support moms.
“People need support,” Brooker said. “They need to know that they are not alone and that there are other people that are going through the same thing.”