“Raise your hand if you are or ever have been a single mother.”
“Raise your hand if you were raised by a single mother.”
“Now, raise your hand if you have ever known and loved a single mother.”
With that last question, the hand of every single team member shot into the air at Pelican’s Family Reunion, our annual employee appreciation event.
These questions posed by Kedra Deggins, Graphic Designer & Community Resource Developer at The Life of a Single Mom, were beyond powerful. They proved just how many of our lives are impacted by single mothers, even if we’ve never experienced the struggles of this lifestyle for ourselves.
Kedra’s powerful example also heightened all of the excitement in the room over what was to come. The hair on my arms stood on end as I thought about being a part of this special project.
In just a few moments, Pelican employees from across the state would create over 275 adorable teddy bears with love—and a little bit of stuffing—before loading them into the vehicles of volunteers and employees from the charity.
After hearing a little bit about The Life of a Single Mom and who would be receiving these teddy bears, we all sprang into action! After our chosen bear was stuffed, each of us added a small felt heart to the bear’s chest before zipping it up.
Each bear was completed with a tiny Pelican State Credit Union shirt and a custom birth certificate that employees could fill out and sign as the “Head Bear Attendant.”
The certificate even included a line detailing what the bear was filled with! I decided that my bear was filled with joy, friendship, love, and hope, but left the name field blank so that the child receiving it could name the bear themselves.
This project wasn’t just a fun time—it was a chance to give back to our neighbors in communities across Louisiana.
Watch this video to see just how cute the bears turned out!
We didn’t stop at our service project—we also talked with Kedra Deggins after the event to learn more about Life of a Single Mom, including who they serve, what programs they offer, and how you can get involved.
What is the main goal for Life of a Single Mom?
The Life of a Single Mom exists to see that no single mom walks alone. We form single mom support groups throughout the state of Louisiana and beyond to give single mothers a place to network, grow, and receive valuable education in 3 core areas: Parenting, Finances, and Health & Wellness.
We also offer a host of other services, including free exercise classes, fresh produce distribution, case management services, counseling, resource referrals, online education classes, an annual Single Mom of the Year Award, and more.
How many single mothers do you help annually?
We help more than 2,500 single mothers in Louisiana and 82,000+ nationally.
How and why did Life of a Single Mom get started?
Our founder and current Chief Executive Officer Jennifer Maggio was once a homeless, severely abused, single mother of two small children. She remembers those moments of being alone, isolated, and unsure of the next steps to survive.
Ultimately, she climbed the corporate ladder to achieve financial and career success, but never forgot lonely moments on a bathroom floor in government housing, when she was certain she wouldn’t make it. The Life of a Single Mom was founded so that no other single mother would huddle on that proverbial bathroom floor feeling she couldn’t survive.
We have since been recognized in more than 200 media venues, including The New York Times, The Advocate, Power Women, and 225 Magazine for our work in serving single mothers and their children.
Who else is impacted by the difference you make in the lives of single mothers?
There are 473,000 Louisiana children raised by single mothers each year.
Our direct impact on their mothers serves as a catalyst to change the lives of the future of Louisiana. Further, we have a residual impact on the education system, real estate market, prison system, and more based on statistical data of single mother-led homes.
Impact a single mom. Impact her children. Impact a nation.
Is there anything different that you provide for those in need in Louisiana?
While we do provide an array of national services, there are some specific Louisiana services we provide.
Our exercise classes and fresh produce distribution nights are exclusively in Louisiana. We provide new clothes and diapers from our community partners, which is also exclusive to Louisiana residents.
We have also provided services such as Ask-A-Lawyer Day, Watermelons & Water Giveaway, and Game Nights, all for single moms in Louisiana.
What are some of the outcomes you’ve seen in Louisiana?
Homeownership among our single mothers has increased by 12.5% since they attended our group sessions.
Less than 2% of our single mothers have a child that has ran away, as opposed to the national average of children in single mother-led homes being 32 times more likely to have a runaway child.
We’ve also seen that 41.67% of single mothers are still using a working budget 6 months after single mom group attendance.
What is a time where you felt that The Life of a Single Mom made the most impact on a person’s life?
I have a quote from Angela L. who joined The Life of a Single Mom. Here’s Angela’s story:
“I had been battling kidney failure for years and the dialysis left me weary. My daughter was ending her high school years, and I never felt more alone.
I had been asked to attend a single mom support group many, many times before I ever actually came.
I didn’t know what to expect. Would women be sitting around complaining or crying?
I finally attended right after my kidney transplant surgery, and I am so glad I did. I found a community of women who were not just surviving, but thriving.
There were women of all ages and races and, yes, even stories like mine.
That was 8 years ago.
Today, my daughter is a college graduate, but I have stayed connected in my single moms’ group, because it is like my second family.
It has given me a lifeline so many times when I needed one.” – Angela L.
If you could give some words of encouragement to a single mother who’s struggling right now, what would you say?
You are not alone.
Your past does not define you. What someone did or said to you does not determine the course of your life. Your future is set before you, and it is bright.
The challenges of your past only serve as fuel to achieve your dreams. The choices you make today matter.
No mountain of dreams is too high for you to climb.
Stay the course. Set your path. Do not be distracted by naysayers. You can do this.
What are some of the programs you have available for single mothers?
We have 24 support groups for single mothers across Louisiana with an expected 40% increase in support groups in Louisiana within the next 12 months. We also have 1500+ support groups for those who may move out of state one day.
Our programs include:
- Licensed counseling and peer mentoring
- Single Mom University, which offers 100+ online life skills classes, including Parenting, Health and Wellness, and Financial education coursework
- Distribution days, including such goods as diapers, toiletries, fresh produce, clothes, furniture, and more
- Resource referrals for emergency services we do not provide
- Single Mom gear, including T-shirts, books, coffee mugs, and more.
How does your charity use donations and what percentage goes to charitable works?
According to our 2018 Financial Review, 89% of all income earned goes directly to charitable works. We currently hold a Platinum Seal on the Guidestar Exchange for our financial stewardship.
Other than donations, how else can the public get involved with your charity?
Volunteers are always needed and interested parties can fill out a volunteer application online.
Our volunteer database includes emails regarding one-time events, ongoing opportunities, committee and board of directors’ service, and more.
If you’d like to learn more about this organization, visit their website at thelifeofasinglemom.com or watch this video overview. You can also follow them on Facebook and Twitter to stay up-to-date on how Life of a Single Mom is ensuring that no single mom walks alone.
Has your life ever been impacted by a single mother? Let us know in the comments!
I’m a rock music enthusiast, vocalist, and lover of comedy. My joy comes from entertaining others. On most weekends you can find me moonlighting with my band in the Baton Rouge area.