An Indianapolis nonprofit organization, Single Parent Connection, offers resources and education to single mothers raising sons. WFYI’s Terri Dee spoke with with the organization's founder, Dionne Brown, about her experience as a single mom and establishing this resource.
WFYI Reporter Terri Dee: Give me some background on your organization and why you felt the need to create it.
Dionne Brown, Single Parent Connection Founder: So, I knew that there were a lot of struggles that I faced as a single parent and I wanted to be that someone for those who had no one. So that's where the idea of Single Parent Connection came about. That has been a vision that I've held, actually, for years, but finally decided to take those steps towards forming an actual organization. So, it is just my way of being able to give back and make a difference in the community and in the lives of single parent families.
Dee: Are you finding a common bond with challenges that mothers who come to your organization seeking help and your experiences as a single mom?
Brown: Most definitely, and a lot of the programming was actually developed through my experiences as a single parent. So those issues that weren't really being addressed by other organizations, those are the ones that I wanted to put in place through this organization so that we can meet specific needs that are held by single parent families.
Dee: What role, if any, did the pandemic play in terms of single mothers reaching out to your organization?
Brown: Thinking from the standpoint of a single parent, if you're a single parent, and you have a household of children, when that single parent is sick, or they're not able to really provide for their children at that time, the children do suffer. So, there were some parents that were in need of food and things like that.
Dee: Single parent connection offers money management, and a continuing education scholarship for parents returning to school. Can you put a frame around how deep the need was for this?
Brown: In the smart money management workshops, we cover the areas of understanding credit, and also learning how to budget. So those are definitely necessary skills that a single parent needs in order to create a better financial future for their families. It helps single parents not to make those knee jerk decisions as far as getting high interest loans and things like that, just providing them with the education that they need to make smart decisions.
Also, the continuing education scholarship is actually something new that we started this year; we will have that ongoing each year. But that actually came as an idea for me, because as a single parent, I wasn't able to continue school for a while. But once my son was a little bit older, I was able to go back to college and actually finish. It took me 20 years to finish it, but I was able to do it.
I definitely want to be that encouragement for single parents who maybe think that they can't complete their education because they have children.
Dee: I understand single parent connection has partnered with the men's ministry of Blended Church. What roles are they playing in assisting the sons of the mothers that are connected to this organization?
Brown: The Boys to Men learning workshop series is a program that's designed for young men who are being raised by a single mother. It gives these young men the opportunity to learn important life skills that are usually passed down from a father to their sons. Although our participants don't have the benefit of being raised in a household with their father, this program gives them an opportunity to learn what they need to know as they transition from boyhood to manhood.
The men's ministry leaders are actually the ones who will be leading these workshops. Young men actually receive information a lot better from a man as opposed to a woman and there are certain things that we as women can't teach our young men about becoming a man; that's where that partnership actually becomes very important.
Dee: Thank you for your time today.
Brown: Sure. You're welcome. Thank you.