A 21st Century Journalism Project

Suddenly single

In People on May 1, 2012 at 3:08 pm

By: Maura Sirianni

The majority of individuals who are raising children alone, start out in committed relationships, and never expected to be single parents.  84% of single parents in America, are women.  Andrea Rose was married for 2 years before she suddenly became a single parent.  “At the time, my son was two and a half years old and my daughter was eighteen months.  My husband worked while I stayed at home with our kids.  We were living off of one paycheck when before I knew it, my husband left.  Suddenly, he was gone and I had no income,” Rose says.

45% of mothers were married before they became a single parent

In 2007, a year before Rose’s struggles began, she volunteered her time as a mentor to a single homeless mother, through a program called Bridge of Hope.  As a Bridge of Hope mentor, Rose became a friend and support system for the young mother.

For a year, Rose was a member of the group that mentored the young mother.  Eventually the mentors helped the mom move into an apartment of her own.  “I was mentoring this woman when all of the sudden, events in my own life took a similar turn,” Rose says.

Roles switched as Rose found herself needing the same type of assistance as she was giving.  Rose’s situation is unique to Bridge of Hope.  Typically, a person will sign up to become a mentor after she has gone through the program.

Bridge of Hope aims to help homeless and at-risk single mothers find permanent housing and financial stability.  Rose was living in an apartment at the time, however, not having a stable income put her at-risk of becoming homeless.  “My landlord did not kick me out because he knew the severity of my situation and that I had young children.  Everything was happening so fast and I was not sure what my next move would be,” Rose says.

With two young children and not much time to figure out her finances, Rose spoke to a close friend and Family Resource Coordinator at Bridge of Hope, Barb Daigle.  “Without hesitation, Barb said the program would be a perfect fit for me.  Had I not gone to Bridge of Hope, I don’t want to think about where I could have ended up.”

Rose was accepted into Bridge of Hope’s program and remained an active member for 18 months.  Without an income of her own, Rose struggled to take care of her children who were 1 and 2 years old, at the time.  She went back to school, was looking for a job, and trying to put her kids in day care.

Rose was in an emergency situation and in order to pay for expenses such as child care, she took the first job available to her.  “I worked for a school bus company who’s school district had a daycare.  As long as you worked for them, you got free child care.”  After about a year of free child care through employment, Rose was able to qualify for public assistance in which she received day-care-funding through welfare.

In order to qualify for public assistance, the annual income for a family of 3, such as Rose’s, is $37,060 maximum yearly income.  Rose no longer needs assistance from welfare, “I am at a stable point with my finances where I am making enough money and I can pay for day care on my own,” she says.

In addition to working a part time job that provided emergency income, Rose went back to school for a degree in phlebotomy. “Bridge of Hope encourages all moms to go for at least a 2 year degree.  I was able to complete my schooling during the first summer I was in the program.”

Today, Rose is a certified phlebotomist.  She runs a satellite lab and has been with the same hospital for nearly 4 years.

Bridge of Hope provided Rose with rental assistance, the first few months she was in the program.  Now, with the financial stability she has achieved through her career, Rose is able to pay her own rent and stay in her apartment.

Not every struggling single mother is as blessed with finding opportunities through organizations such as Bridge of Hope, as Rose was.  Lack of income and permanent housing leave 16 million single mothers and their children homeless in America each year.  “If I had to deal with the sudden hardships in my life without the support of my church and Bridge of Hope, I do not think I would have been able to do it.  Their love and support made me more willing to do everything that is required of being a single parent, going to work, finishing school, and keeping your fiances in order when there are hardly any,” Rose says.

  1. Reblogged this on National Diaper Bank Network and commented:
    A good reminder that the many people struggling to support their children have often suffered a change in circumstances.

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