San Bernardino Tragedy: Westport’s Lil’ Mamas Connection

In just a couple of years, Lil’ Mamas has grown into a big community.

It’s a robust, no-holds-barred, tell-all online family. Thousands of women laugh, cry, rant, and figured out what motherhood is all about, side by side. They answer each other’s questions, and support one another through sleepless nights, diaper explosions, and every other time moms feel so alone.

Ali Porter, and her son Mason.

Ali Porter, and her son Mason.

Lil’ Mamas has a strong Westport flavor. It was started by Ali Porter, a Westporter who left Staples in 1998 to act, work on music and hang with her boyfriend in Malibu. She’d already played Curly Sue in the film of the same name, then went on to Broadway (Urleen in “Footloose,” Bebe in the 2006 revival of “A Chorus Line”).

Celia Behar, who was Ali’s babysitter in Westport — that is, she babysat her — is Lil Mamas’ president. Several frequent contributors are Westporters too.

Women across the country are devoted to Lil’ Mamas. But as they advise each other, and follow one another’s journeys through motherhood, they feel as if they’re part of a small town.

And when tragedy strikes, the site’s many followers come together as if they really do live right down the street.

On Wednesday afternoon, group member Renee Wetzel wrote: “Please pray. My husband was in a meeting and a shooter came in. There are multiple people dead/shot. I can’t get a hold of him.” Her husband was in San Bernardino.

Renee continued to post throughout the day. Eight grueling hours later, she learned that her husband Michael was dead. He left behind 6 children.

Michael and Renee Wetzel, with their 6 children.

Michael and Renee Wetzel, with their 6 children.

The Lil’ Mamas community swung into action. In addition to providing emotional support — prayers, thoughts, loving words — Ali and Celia set up a fund.

The original goal was $25,000. They reached that in just a couple of hours. The new goal is $250,000. Right now, they’re just a few dollars shy.

Lil’ Mamas treats motherhood as less than sacrosanct. Contributors and commenters can be irreverent, sassy and saucy.

But — as Ali Porter and Celia Behar prove — Lil’ Mamas can also have big ol’ hearts.

Especially when the heart has been torn right out of one of their own.

(Click here to contribute to the Wetzel Family Fund.)

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6 responses to “San Bernardino Tragedy: Westport’s Lil’ Mamas Connection

  1. Can anyone say if Celia Behar is a sister of Andy Behar? A resident of the Bay Area, Andy was in Westport this fall for the SHS ’75 40th class reunion. Just to be clear, given the Westporters in Lil’ Mamas, is there any chance that Michael Wetzel was related to the family of Westporter Steve Wetzel SHS ’75? Or is that a coincidence of names?

  2. Bart Shuldman

    Dan. This story has so many different interesting stories and debates inside it.

    First- it is always amazing the response by Americans to help. This family has been devastated, 6 children and their father is murdered. Then the good will of Americans comes in to try and help. No words to explain.

    Second-how does the U S have a no fly list but not a no buy list for guns? What logic can explain this? Someone deemed harmful to fly should have no, none, zero access to buy a gun. Yet they can. And it appears no change to the law will happen. Again, no words to explain this (and remember I am a republican).

    Third—“ISIS is contained. JV. There is no immediate threat. Global warming is the most immediate risk’. Do we feel safe? No words to explain this.

  3. Carolanne Curry

    Great piece