Serving Baylor Students since 2021
As a mom of three, Becky DeGracia knows how a parent feels when they send their children to college. In 2017, DeGracia’s oldest headed off to Baylor University, 1,504 miles from her then home of Seal Beach, California. At the time, she had no contact points in Waco, wasn’t active in any Baylor Facebook groups and she needed her daughter to have a mom away from home. The year of 2020 brought immense change to the DeGracia family. As the pandemic heightened, her family made the move to Waco, with her youngest two children enrolling at Baylor. With cases climbing, DeGracia became the Waco mom for her children’s friends isolated in quarantine. From there, she created Waco Mama Bear in 2021, a service that offers students a mom away from home, something she wished her oldest daughter had.
“I found a Class of ‘25 [Facebook] group and just started interacting, and the idea for Waco Mama Bear was born,” DeGracia said. “I wanted to serve, I wanted to give parents an extra layer of support [for students] that were coming in from out of state.”
That extra layer covers care packages, moving and storage for the summer, sick meals, lunch or coffee dates, shuttle to the Waco and D-FW Airports, laundry and cleaning services — and that’s not even all the services offered.
DeGracia is calling this summer ‘the summer of expansion’ because Waco Mama Bear is now offering its services to the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Of course, DeGracia cannot clone herself, so she hired Liz Monaco, a mom she met through Baylor, to take over the D-FW area including the Baylor School of Nursing and Texas Christian University.
DeGracia’s job isn’t to fold your underwear or do your homework; she said it takes a village to raise great young adults and she wants to be a part of that process in a mentor capacity.
“I feel like this is more of a transition piece of working with students and still giving them independence. Not being their parent, but a parental mentor or somebody they can talk to and bounce things off of with no emotional attachment,” DeGracia said.
When asked why a mom of three would want to help hundreds of students move or create care packages, DeGracia said it was simple.
“I was coming in as an out of state mom. I understood, I had empathy.”
This summer, DeGracia has helped 150 students move in and out of their dorms and apartments. She even receives packages for students at her house and stores them at Amy’s Attic, a local storage unit. Baylor nursing students can have their packages delivered and stored in Dallas as well.
One of the reasons I love Waco is because as a community we love to work together. Waco Mama Bear is a great example of this because she works with local businesses, Baylor, churches and families. DeGracia has embraced the Waco community as her own by serving within it and even by receiving Baylor’s ‘Alumni By Choice’ decree, an award that alumni nominate to a person who ‘loves and supports’ the university.
DeGracia said when a student uses her services, she wants them to feel encouraged and affirmed in who they are and who God created them to be.
Waco Mama Bear takes 25 students per semester under the package program; however, she does offer a la carte services any student is able to use such as care package, photography sessions, home-cooked meals, personal campus and Waco tours, house cleaning, storage and packing service and even grocery runs. When I met with DeGracia she was currently in the process of moving students and creating care packages before the semester kicks off.