The Great Louisiana Flood of 2016 was an unprecedented crisis. The worst natural disaster since Hurricane Sandy in 2012, 13 people died and countless more lost everything they owned. And one local charity, founded to help single mothers, was just the recipient of a generous donation by an international superstar.
Years ago, in 1999, Jennifer Maggio was a homeless, single mother of two. “I had to utilize government assistance to make ends meet,” she said. “I had no money, no hope, and few friends. Those days were dark days as I felt misunderstood and alone, and struggled to know what were the next steps to repair my broken heart and life.” Ultimately, she got married, found career success in corporate America, and those two children are now adults. “But I never forgot what it was like to be a lonely single mom, struggling to find my place,” she explained. In 2007, she started The Life of a Single Mom, leaving the corporate world behind to give back to the single parent community. It started as a small support group with three single moms that met in her living room; now, it is a national organization that serves over 50,000 single mothers in 1500 support groups across the world. “Our biggest goal is to work with the faith-based community to establish support groups in churches that are efficient, run well, and attract single mothers who may otherwise feel unsupported,” Maggio said.
After the Louisiana flood, Taylor Swift wanted to do something to help, and made a commitment to donate $1 million to Louisiana flood relief. The Life of a Single Mom was one of the charities Swift chose to make a donation to. “It is my understanding that her team worked to identify charities who were on the ground doing great work that could have an immediate impact on the community. Our organization was identified as one such charity,” Maggio explained. “Ms. Swift gave a generous donation to our organization on October 3 that will be utilized to give qualifying single mothers who were affected by the flood a new refrigerator, slow cooker, cookbook with healthy recipes, and fresh produce to help promote health & wellness, as flood victims recover.” Her publicity team called Maggio, saying that Swift was excited to support them.
While the flood has affected Louisianans of all backgrounds, recovering from such a major natural disaster can be especially difficult for single mothers. “The need to support single mothers, year-round, is great,” Maggio said. “But the needs have significantly compounded as our organization has been positioned, front and center, on the ground level of such an unprecedented natural disaster, here in Louisiana. This funding means more single mothers are served, more impact is made, more children are blessed, and more families will have hope, during this difficult time of recovery and repair.”
Many single mothers are already facing major challenges. They are often exhausted, overworked, and struggling to make ends meet. Adding a natural disaster to the challenges they already face can be devastating. “Imagine everything you’ve ever owned gone in a matter of hours — cars, homes, clothes, appliances,” Maggio said. “And then, imagine having to recover from those damages without support. Many of the single mothers we serve had no flood insurance, meaning what they owned will not be replaced, but for the generosity of people like you.”
The Life of a Single Mom has done great work helping victims of the Louisiana flood, but their work continues year round. They focus on five major initiatives to ensure that single mothers can be healthy financially, parentally, emotionally, and spiritually. “We provide a wealth of support for single mothers and those who work with them, such as events, training workshops, online materials, fresh produce distribution, exercise classes, print materials, curriculum, online classrooms, and much more,” Maggio said. The Life of a Single Mom endeavors to teach single mothers that they play a significant role in their children’s lives, and that while their life perhaps hasn’t been the perfect, ideal life, that’s a life that hardly anyone gets to lead. The challenges single mothers face are challenges that people from all walks of life have faced. “We look to fit in, belong, provide healthy parenting, make wise financial decisions, and so much more. And like all of us, when issues are unaddressed in our lives, such as disappointment, a broken heart, maybe past abuse, we can further struggle,” Maggio explained. “Our daily question, as a staff, is how can we help single mothers, each day, know how loved they are by God, how important their role is in their children’s lives, and promote positive outcomes for this often, unreached people group.”
Maggio also wants to send a message to any single mothers out there who may be struggling. “You are not alone,” she said. “Your past, your disappointment, your struggle, is not your future, your tomorrow, and your hope. There is help for you. Know that there is a community of mothers out there who stand with you, as a sisterhood of support. And many churches and community groups, around the United States, want to be there to ensure your success.”
To help support single mothers and their children, visit www.thelifeofasinglemom.com, where you can find information on their programs as well as their commitment to change these women’s lives, and how to make a donation. “We can’t do it without readers like you.”