Orland woman has multiple goals for national group
BY MIKE NOLAN firstname.lastname@example.org September 6, 2013 6:46PM
Kimberly Ozark, of Orland Park, recently was named president of the national organization Multiples of America, aka the National Organization of Mothers of Twins Clubs. She is shown with portraits of her four daughters: (from left) Megan, Katie and twins Nicole and Ashley. | Mike Nolan~Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 9, 2013 7:24PM
When her twin daughters were born, Kimberly Ozark already was the mom of two young daughters and turned to a support group, Clusters Moms of Multiples, for help.
Taking care of four girls all 3 or younger meant days when she felt “like I was on autopilot,” and at times doubting her own parenting skills, she said.
Joining Clusters, which includes moms from the southwest suburbs and Chicago’s Southwest Side, “was a way for me to feel support and connected,” Ozark said.
“I needed to know I was doing OK,” she said.
Recently, the Orland Park resident was named president of a national group that is the umbrella organization for Clusters and about 300 similar clubs around the country, with a total membership of 23,000.
Ozark also is stepping into the role at a time when the association is undergoing a rebranding and name change, and trying to catch the eye of younger members as well as potential corporate sponsors.
With a history that reaches back more than five decades, the group is trying to wean itself from its longstanding, yet cumbersome, name — the National Organization of Mothers of Twins Clubs. Its new name, Multiples of America, also better reflects the current makeup of the various clubs’ membership, Ozark said.
“It’s not just a mothers of twins club,” she said. “It’s mothers and parents of twins, triplets, quadruplets. We have educators and doctors as members.”
The rebranding, which she spent the last year overseeing, is part of a broader effort to “become a little bit more modern, more relevant to modern parents,” Ozark said, and hopefully encourage them to join their local multiples group.
The shortened name is “easier to get across on social media,” she said.
“It’s a little fresher; it’s a name that will catch their eye,” she said of younger, more social media-savvy new and expectant moms.
Ozark was installed as president to a one-year term in late July, although she said that term can be extended to a second year. She has previously held positions in the volunteer organization — it has one paid employee — including research chairman and membership vice president, and most recently spent two years as executive vice president.
She also has held leadership positions with the Illinois Organization of Mothers of Twins Clubs and remains on the board of directors.
She said other goals of Multiples of America include seeking out more grant money for research and, eventually, seeking corporate sponsorships with the MOA possibly lending its name to products aimed at new parents of multiples.
The organization, in a news release announcing Ozark’s new role, said it is devoted to research “for the purpose of informing and educating parents and caregivers on conditions that may be more frequently experienced with multiple births.”
Twins became ‘best friends’
When her twin girls were born 21 years ago, Ozark was caring for a 3-year-old daughter and had given birth to a second girl 11 months before the twins arrived.
Talking with other moms who were part of the Clusters club helped her better understand the issues she was facing.
“I thought there were some challenges I needed to address,” she said. “The biggest thing I was looking for was the education part of it.”
Labor was induced at 38 weeks, and Nicole required some occupational and speech therapy, while her twin sister, Ashley, needed speech therapy.
“They are best friends,” Ozark said of her daughters.
They not only attend the same school, Southern Illinois University, but are roommates there, where Ashley is majoring in forensic chemistry and Nicole in international studies and political science.
Ozark’s oldest daughter, Megan, 24, is a special-education teacher in Plainfield, while Katie, 22, is studying special education and elementary education at Eastern Illinois University.
Ozark works as an occupational therapist at RML Specialty Hospital in Hinsdale.
She said that with the rebranding and name change, the objectives of MOA haven’t been altered.
“Our mission is exactly the same,” Ozark said.