IT is 26 below zero in Omaha, Neb., and most cars are frozen in driveways. But Kathy Trotter has been at the MAD DADS office in North Omaha for hours - on her day off - taking calls from volunteers. Callers had seen a spot on local news the night before and are phoning to take children on outings, shop for presents, work with parents to support children during the holidays. The phone rings all morning.
Ms. Trotter is the chairman of MAD MOMS, a spinoff organization of the antigang group MAD DADS. The womens' group has attracted 120 members. As assistant principal at Omaha's Wakonda and Kellom Elementary Schools, Trotter sees the effect of the drug trade on the lives of children firsthand, and says she wanted to support MAD DADS the minute she heard about the organization.
``For so long black women have been the backbone of the community.... Any meetings you saw [involved] mainly women. It makes me feel good to see men taking a stand in the community,'' she says. Apparently, many women in Omaha agree with her. In a poll published by the Omaha World Herald last week, 92 percent of women surveyed supported MAD DADS; only 3 percent disapproved.
``We're all working for one goal: To get kids off the streets and out of gangs,'' says Trotter. ``But MAD MOMS have their own approach: We're working on trying to build strong families.''