DaAnne Smith, the Executive Director of Single Mother's Outreach and this examiner sat down and talked about issues facing single mothers and fathers within the Santa Clarita Valley. SMO has directly helped over 1700 families and they experience many success stories. This examiner asked her to share one success story which stands out to her.
DaAnne: One of my favorites is about this lady, Christy Ann. She's a widow. Her 9 year old son had cancer. Because of his medical issues, she needed to quit her job and devote her energy to him. They were in deep financial need. The Single Mother's Outreach teamed up with College of the Canyons and held a class on the topic "Should I go back to school?". She decided to enroll and received her Associates degree. She wants to get her Master's degree and become a Psychologist. Today, her son is cancer free and she's on a path to earning a living wage and paying off the debt.
To read more success stories from Single Mother's Outreach click this link.
Here are some suggestions DaAnne shared for how individuals or churches can help single mothers:
Individuals can help by...
1. Being a good listener. If you know someone who is a single parent, it can be lonely to make choices all by yourself. DaAnne said, "A lot of parents need to dump their bucket." A friend with a good set of ears makes that possible. If individuals wish to help at the Single Mother's Outreach they can put those listening skills to use. SMO is creating a team of caring and compassionate individuals who listen to the stories of single parents and help point them toward help. SMO has resources and social services information. They train their caregivers to have access to that information.
2. Being investigators. If you know a single parent who is searching for a new home or a better job but lacks the time and energy to hunt for the details like pricing, locations, etc. you can help by making phone calls or helping to do the busy work. At the Single Mother's Outreach, that's one way they serve single mothers and fathers. They do the leg work for housing hunts. They also have information about child care.
3. Being a babysitter. Let's say a single mother or father has a job interview and a two year old and no daycare. One of the greatest ways to help is to offer babysitting. The same applies to doctor visits or dental appointments. Babysitting is a huge need for the single parent.
4. Helping at the closet. Single Mother's Outreach collects gently used clothing, jewelry, housewares, books and baby items. They distribute these items to single parents once a month for free. If you have fashion sense, you can come and help parents build and outfit which will enable them to get the better job they need. The closet will be open to the public Saturday, January 29th, 9am - 12pm.
Churches can help by...
1. Providing a safe place where single mothers or fathers can drop off their children for babysitting. This would be an amazing ministry for single mothers or fathers who struggling to care for the regular needs of their family.
2. Sending volunteers to Single Mother's Outreach to help with child care during workshops. SMO offers workshops on a wide range of topics to help get people on a solid path and free childcare is vital to enable a parent's participation.
3. Planning work projects to assist single mothers or fathers. When you are the only one who cares for the children and earns the living, maintenance projects can pile up. Putting together groups of people who can serve individual needs like gardening or roof repair or painting become major blessings for single parents.
4. Deciding to adopt-a-family. SMO matches groups with families for an adopt-a-family program during various holidays.
5. Planning a family fun event at the church. Giving single mothers and fathers free opportunities to play alongside their children helps them to know the love of Christ in a practical and hands-on way.
A parting thought from DaAnne Smith: "Every church, every temple has single parents. Every church struggles with the question, 'Are we really helping or enabling.' This organization exists to partner with churches. They can know their single parents will be treated with compassion and accountability. We lovingly but firmly help parents to move forward."
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