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PART TIME WORKS FOR THEM

The original Mom Squad has grown to include dads and students.

After her second child was born in 1994, Sue Vidmar quit working and settled into life in suburbia.

"I have a husband that travels four to five days a week," said the former teacher and manager for Marriott Corp. "We needed somebody at home with the kids."

Fourteen years and one more child later, Vidmar has returned to the corporate world. She has recruited 11 other moms in northwest Hillsborough to join her. They call themselves the Mom Squad.

She wasn't looking for a job. "I was already working 40 hours a week volunteering," said Vidmar, who has been on the executive boards of several PTAs and booster clubs at Westchase schools.

Then, at a neighborhood gathering in late February, a manager of Firm Solutions LLC, an employment and training agency, asked for help finding potential hires.

Vidmar found 11 prospects - stay-at-home moms willing to work during school hours.

"I may be making phone calls in the evenings," said Vidmar, 46. "I may be working during the day. I may be doing it from home, the office. I may be working on the weekends. I still do all the things that I do at home with my three kids."

Karen Falconer, 43, was one of them. A former human resources director, the mother of two is back in her old field after 15 years away from it.

Since March, Falconer has trained new full-time employees and sifted through resumes of prospective hires at Firm Solutions in Town 'N Country.

"At first, I felt a little insecure," she said, "and then it just kind of rolled."

She still wakes the kids, cooks them breakfast, packs them lunch, shuttles them to and from after-school activities. Her workday begins after they leave and ends at 4 p.m., when they return home from school.

"It's nice for that reason," Falconer said.

The Mom Squad saves Firm Solutions money. The company gets qualified candidates without the expense of benefits and other costs associated with full-time hires.

"A lot of businesses now, their focus is on having a cost-effective solution," said Jan Duke, the agency's chief resource officer. "They may not have somebody there 40 hours a week, but the hours that person is there, they want to be there for the right reasons."

The Mom Squad has grown to include more than 150 dads, high school students and college students. Some do tasks like filing; others may facilitate training. The group of part-timers has been renamed Flexible Workforce Solution to reflect their growing diversity.

Vidmar and Falconer said their families have supported their return to work.

"My senior thought that was really cool that I could do this and still do, as he put it, my mom job," said Vidmar, who recruits moms for the agency and handles their schedules and payroll.

Falconer said of her kids: "They think that it's kind of neat that I work at a real place now. They're like, 'Ooh, it's like a real job.' "

Rodney Thrash can be reached at rthrash@sptimes.com or (813) 269-5303.

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