INCITE: To support, to encourage,
The history of INCITE A Single Moms Support Group
I started planning this organization in January, 2011. A designer by trade, I was busy working on my business plan for a Graphic Design business, when I decided to change gears. I had been soul searching, reading inspirational books and having interesting discussions with my mentor, Vivian, and other women who really knew me. These factors, and more helped me to realize that what I really wanted to do with my life was "make a difference". At the time, I was reading a book by Stedman called "You Can Make It Happen: A Nine-Step Plan for Success" about goal setting, discovering your purpose and what makes you tick. I actually had to stop reading the book half way through because I realized that I was "on the wrong path". This book helped me to realize that not only was I not using all of my "assets", I wasn't fulfilling myself as a person and truly following my heart. I needed to start listening to my heart and to spend the rest of my life doing what really mattered to me. Like most of you, I realized that life is way too short, and it goes way too fast. I knew that at the end of the day, what really mattered to me was that I made a difference in this world; that I left my footprint, that I used my time here to help others. I sure wasn't getting any younger, so I quickly changed gears. Shortly after, I started working on the concept of a support group for single moms. It seemed like a natural thing to do, since I had been a single mom for 9 years, had been "through the trenches" and had helped many other single moms navigate the system, offering support along the way. I had always found pleasure in using my experiences to help others, thinking maybe there was a reason for the challenges that I had been through. Then I started talking to my friends; other single moms. We talked about the unique struggles and challenges that single moms face. We talked about the different types of single moms. We talked about the stigma attached to being a single mom. We talked about what help is currently out there and where the gaps are.
I think that single moms have been relying on each other for years. We have survived and learned through other single moms who have had the same experiences; who could offer some type of guidance and direction. Sometimes, we laugh about the fact that we don't think as little girls "Gee, when I grow up, I really want to be a single mom!" But, it really isn't that funny. Not many of us are prepared for single-parenting.
So, here I am, now using my "top 5 assets", just like Stedman writes about. Our organization has been in full swing for three years now. I have met many amazing women and men who volunteer their time and services to help us offer over seven successful programs and services. I have three wonderful single moms as Board of Directors and a compassionate lawyer, Rick Burgess, who has offered his work pro-bono to get us registered as a incorporated Non-Profit. I have talented Advisers who offer their professional advice including: lawyers, financial advisers, counselors, teachers, a public health nurse, early childhood educators and career counsellors. As far as how many lives have we touched; we are over 500 now and are still counting! We also have had over 30,000 visitors on our web- site since launching, have had a successful Focus Group at the Ron Edwards Family YMCA with over 40 single moms from our community and have single moms at our Weekly Support Meetings who's lives are changing! The support from our community has been overwhelming! We are grateful for the ongoing support from our community partners: Astra Graphics, Verico Designer Mortgages, all four Rotaries, Align Software, Joelle's, the Optimist Club, Lion's Club, Knights of Columbus, Rick Burgess, The Centre for Skills Development & Training, Salvation Army, YMCA and more!
Other than program planning, facilitating meetings, meeting with "moms-in-need", training volunteers, marketing, design-ing and meeting with other community organizations, I have been busy advocating on behalf of single moms in our community. You may have seen one of the many articles in the Burlington Post, The Hamilton Spectator, Toronto Star or Glow Magazine, seen my face on Cogeco TV, Mom U, The Single Mom Show or on the FYI Program or heard my voice on CHML radio. I have started speaking up! It wasn't too many years ago that I felt alone. I've definitely had my share of tough times and it has been a long haul. But, I certainly am not alone anymore. Did you know that 1 in 6 households in Halton and 1 in 3 households in the U.S are a single-parent households? In Halton, 93% of single parent households are run by the mother. This is a huge demographic, and it is growing! I hear from other single moms that they feel alone, as well. We shouldn't feel alone when there are so many single moms in our community! We just need to talk, to speak up, to share our challenges and successes, to be open and honest about our situations and to unite! Our organization provides many opportunities for single moms to connect, build friendships and create a support system. From our website Membership and Facebook group to our Weekly Support Meetings, social outings and philanthropy events, there are lots of opportunities for our single moms to connect.
The statistics say that the two biggest struggles for single moms are financial difficulties and mental health issues. In general single moms earn a significant amount less than single dads. Most of these moms are living at or below the low income level, even though they work full-time. Often they are struggling to make ends meet and are balancing on a thin wire. They are usually in their 30's and 40's. They are generally stressed out and tired, doing two-jobs-in-one, trying to balance work and parenting. Our goal is to help support these moms, help raise them up so that they can flourish. We offer many program and services that encourage and strengthen both the moms and their children. We offer affordable counseling, guidance and direction. We offer meditation and yoga. We offer support and encouragement. We offer solutions.
As you take the time to read our website, you will see testimonials from single moms in our community. You will read about their challenges and quite frequently will hear the sadness and frustrations that they feel, but hopefully you will appreciate the need for these types of services as you read the success stories and positive messages from our members that have been attending our meetings. I am thrilled to say that I often hear from other organizations that our moms are talking about us! To truth is, INCITE has already made a difference in many family's lives in our community! It's pretty amazing what compassion, volunteers and support from the community can achieve! I even receive calls from both other organizations and single moms in other cities asking us to provide our programs and services in their centres or cities. There is definitely a need for INCITE A Single Moms Support Group in every Canadian city. We have created a very unique and much needed support system for a large demographic, very much in-need.
I confess, it has been and continues to be an honour and joy to do what I do! When I returned to school at 35 years old, studying Graphic Design, my goal was to use my creative skills to help charities in our community. Even back then, I wanted to make a difference. But it wasn't until I stopped worrying about "making a living" and "started living a life focusses on helping others" that I was brought to one of the most rewarding and magical times of my life. I have met and am proud to be friends with hundreds of wonderful, compassionate, strong single moms in our community that come to our support meetings and and have joined our organization. They often share how they appreciate my efforts, starting this organization. They may not realize this, but it is them who have added to my life and inspire me daily! These are good women, amazing moms and wonderful people.
Thank you for taking the time to look at our website. I will leave you with one of my favorite sayings:
“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honourable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference, that you have lived and lived well.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
INCITE A Single Moms Support Group
"Way to go Beth! You are awesome and inspiring and have a real heart for helping others. Your daughter is pretty awesome, too!"
"Beth is an innovative leader who did more than identify a need in the community. She brought together agencies, companies and people to form an independent organization - INCITE - that gives back to our city at the same time it creates both support and new possibilities for Moms who need a hand. That assistance is returned tenfold, as they move forward to help others."
"Beth, we were very pleased to meet you and congratulate you on accomplishing so much for so many, in such a short time. You are very passionate about what you are doing for the single moms in Burlington and I am sure all will be successful in the end. Good things come to good people! We wish you the best of success! "
The Jumior League
“Beth is very bright, energetic, compassionate and highly moti-vated. She demonstrated her leadership skills by founding Incite for single mothers and providing women with the knowledge and encouragement to face their unique challenges. She generously donates her time and shares her personal experiences, as well as her wealth of information. Beth recognized a need in her com-munity and selflessly donated her personal time so other women would not have to face the same challenges she did. Beth is the ultimate professional, extremely approachable and totally authentic. In my communication with Beth she has always addressed my questions or issues in a timely manner. She is loyal, responsible, approachable, and a woman of integrity. I would recommend Beth for any position she aspires to.” June 22, 2012