Originally the owner of Motherpath Doula Services, Michelle is a birth & postpartum doula, childbirth educator, yoga instructor, and a passionate breastfeeding and natural birth advocate. Michelle is the mother of six children and has given birth in hospital and at home. Her background is in women's studies, community building and organizing, and birth options advocacy. Michelle has been attending births and supporting women through the childbearing year for over 25 years and is the co-founder Project Motherpath (formerly Birthgirlz), a non-profit organization working to normalize and revalue all aspects of motherhood in our communities through education, outreach and activism.
Licensed as a midwife and a marriage and family therapist Tamara has a varied background in women’s reproductive health activism and has been working in maternal, infant and child health for the last fifteen years. Tamara has a deep interest in the sustainability of the midwifery profession and politics as it relates to birth. Currently pursuing a Phd in Family Therapy, her clinical and research interests focus on exploring mental health issues that are pervasive during the childbearing year particularly the experience of postpartum depression, post traumatic stress related to birth and perinatal bereavement. Tamara currently serves on the board of the Florida School of Traditional Midwifery. She is the owner of a private practice Encompass: Therapy for Wellness .
An Interview with Our Founders
1 - Why is your venue called “The Gathering Place”?
Long before we opened this space we had an idea of creating somewhere for moms and families that was inclusive and supportive of all parenting choices. We wanted to create a space that people could come together united primarily because they were birthing and parenting children - a place to gather. And so - The Gathering Place. This place, and everything we have grown from it, is almost entirely a figment of our very big imaginations. It became a reality with the help of our friends, family, clients and collegues - and it continues to grow with their support.
2 - In what ways is The Gathering Place innovative and why is it so unique?
So many families, moms in particular are looking for guidance and friendship on their journey of parenthood. It takes a village to raise a child not just because community input is needed but also because a community of support is needed. We have worked really hard to create a living breathing village for our families. We created our center to respond to the unique needs of expecting parents, babies and new families. All of the projects that happen in our space are the culmination of our shared dream to make a difference in women’s lives. Our wish is that families will experience our center as a supportive, safe place where they can find the resources they need throughout the exciting, difficult and vulnerable period of pregnancy and early parenting.
3 - Is there any other place like the Gathering Place in South Florida?
Not yet. There are many spaces that offer classes and some who have both classes and services but none that have both of those plus allied pracitioners, retail and focus on community building and gathering. Hopefully this will change in the near future. Most major cities have at least 3 or 4 places like us. Miami is a bit behind the curve. We have dreams of opening other locations in Miami-Dade County. It been hard and sometimes imposisble work but our clients are great about letting us know we are providing a valueable service to the community. We are very motivated and are deeply committed to ensuring spaces like ours exist.
4 - Which are the top classes offered at your venue?
Our core program which is made up of classes for first-time parents:
- Preparing for Hospital Birth
- Giving Birth With Confidence
- Coping with Fear & Pain in Labor
- Your Amazing Newborn
- Breastfeeding Basics
5 - Why did you decide to open this venue? Is there a special story behind its existence? How is this place beneficial to expectant mothers and current parents?
Our local area lacked community spaces providing education and support services to help families approach pregnancy, childbirth and parenthood with knowledge and confidence. "As a mother of 6, a doula and a childbirth educator I believe that women and their families are able to flourish with the strength and connection of a community - so I created one (Michelle Fonte, co-founder). Our programs are geared towards enriching parents experiences and choices by providing a wide array of services and resources all under one roof. (Tamara Taitt, co-founder) Our center makes navigating childbirth and parenting easier, less stressful and more joyful. We want to provide our clients with a place where they can sustain themselves through the demanding work of pregnancy, childbirth and early parenting. At our center we strive to offer support, educational opportunities and services that nurture families so that they can parent the best way they know how and raise healthy, supported and well-loved children who will in turn make our world a better place to be in.
6 - Do you have to be a member in order to participate in the classes?
Definitely not. The membership program was created to allow families who use our space often to take advantage of a discount for their loyalty. For someone who is expecting, the membership is a great option. It lasts until your baby is 1 year old and there are a host of classes from childbirth education to parenting workshops that are likely to be taken during that span of time.
7 - What can parents expect when they walk in to your venue?
To feel welcome and at home. That is a cornerstone of what we offer. There is definitely a sense of warmth when people come through our doors, like you've arrived somewhere you didn't know you were trying to find.
8 - Is there anything new and exciting coming to The Gathering Place?
Not to the center itself but from it's owners. We opened a birthing center in 2016 with tons of community support after quite a long journey. Magnolia Birth House is the perfect addition to what we already do.