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|Amber Brooks • 10/26/17|
The Short Version: When Jennifer Maggio graduated high school, she was pregnant and alone. Her father had cut her out of his life. Her boyfriend had dumped her and left for college. She had to work multiple jobs, go to night school, and run herself ragged just to get by. During this period of upheaval, she found the strength she needed through prayer, love, and faith. Today, Jennifer is happily married with three children, and she travels around the world to share her testimony with single parents in crisis. In her work as a passionate family advocate, she founded a nonprofit organization that runs single-mom support groups worldwide. The Life of a Single Mom (TLSM) is a global ministry dedicated to serving single mothers with the all they need to raise happy and healthy families. The organization provides empowering resources to advise and inspire women who feel like they can’t do it all on their own. Backed by people who know the struggles of single motherhood, the Life of a Single Mom offers a nonjudgmental space for reflection and growth.
I was scrolling through my newsfeed the other day, laughing at memes and liking dog pictures, when a simple post from a middle school friend caught my eye. It was a OneMomsGuide quote reading, “I didn’t set out to be a single parent. I set out to be the best parent I can be… and that hasn’t changed.”
I don’t typically expect a Facebook post to bring about serious thoughts or deep emotions, but shocked tears came to my eyes to think of my old goofball chorus buddy now solemnly facing single motherhood. Since our early 20s, I’ve seen her two giggly girls grow bigger every day in pictures at parks, schools, and play-dates, and I know my friend is a wonderfully caring mom, but I’m sure it can be scary to raise a young family on your own.
Fortunately, the Life of a Single Mom offers comprehensive resources for single parents, like my friend, who want to do right by their children. The ministry’s stated mission is “to see that single moms do not walk alone,” and it does an incredible job of uplifting women in turbulent times. The educational materials and community programs provided by this global initiative have inspired millions of parents to be the best they can be.
Based in Louisiana, the Life of a Single Mom is a nonprofit organization that works alongside churches in 19 countries to ensure that single moms have the help they need to raise happy, healthy children. From welcoming support groups to instructive blog posts, the ministry carries a message of love and hope to parents facing all kinds of challenges in their lives.
“Here is what I know for sure,” Jennifer Maggio wrote in “A Letter to a Single Mom,” “You may be beat down, but you aren’t conquered. You may be weary, but you are not finished. You will make it through. You will.”
At age 19, Jennifer was pregnant for the fourth time and living on food stamps in government housing. Her mother was dead, and her father was an alcoholic who had told her to “have a nice life” when she told him she was pregnant with his grandson. She’d been molested and abused for most of her childhood, and she felt truly lost and alone as a teen mom. After years of doubt and struggle, she fell back on her faith and found hope in the Holy Spirit.
“I was in church one Sunday, and I was praying over and over again: ‘Lord please change his heart,” she recalled, explaining that she was praying for the father of her two children. “And in that moment, I feel like the Holy Spirit spoke to me and said, ‘Stop praying for me to change his heart, and start praying for me to change yours.'”
“I cried more than I slept. I feared more than I prayed. I didn’t think anyone understood.” — Jennifer Maggio, Founder of the Life of a Single Mom Ministries
Joining the church changed the trajectory of Jennifer’s life, and she worked hard to give her children the kind of happiness and security she hadn’t had growing up. She tackled an ambitious career at a bank and earned 11 Circle of Excellence awards at a prominent Fortune 500 company. Emboldened and empowered, the single mother then chose to leave her lucrative career in corporate America to become a moral advocate for families like hers.
Jennifer feels passionately about doing all she can to help single-parent families thrive. She wants to build a community where single mothers can learn from each other and find the strength within themselves to make the best out of what they have. She founded the ministry the Life of a Single Mom to spread hope, support, and guidance to women everywhere.
Today, Jennifer is an award-winning author and motivational speaker who shares her history of homelessness and abuse to inspire others to rise above their circumstances. Her devoted advocacy work has raised awareness for single-parent issues and given families around the world the knowledge to learn and grow together.
“My hope is that, through my own experiences, others may receive strength,” Jennifer said. “The power of God is so much bigger than your past.”
Some single moms may feel isolated or defeated by circumstances outside their control, but Jennifer tells them it’s never too late to change the narrative of their lives. The Life of Single Mom Ministries gives single mothers the support of women who have been there and done that so they can see that there is a way out of despair, fear, and hardship.
The Life of a Single Mom’s resources have proven invaluable to families across the US and abroad. In neighborhood homes and churches, the TLSM support groups provide emotional and financial support to women trying to be mother, father, and breadwinner for their children.
The Life of a Single Mom programs teach important life skills in parenting, finances, and health to equip mothers for success. You can volunteer to help with the organization or join the Single Mom University to embark on a positive journey focused on family, healing, and love.
If you’d like to delve more deeply on your own on a specific topic, the Life of a Single Mom podcasts offer encouragement and step-by-step guidance in the challenges of raising a family as a single parent. These short recordings discuss how to deal with insecurities, career issues, relationships, schooling, and other support lessons intended for single moms who wish to set a loving example for their communities.
Through a variety of portals, Jennifer offers down-to-earth parenting advice for single moms from her own experiences and revelations. “Dating with a child is much more complicated than dating without,” she wrote in a blog post about healthy dating decisions. “Proceed with caution. The devastation of a divorce or a failed relationship can take years to heal.”
When Jennifer speaks, you get the feeling that she truly and deeply knows what she’s talking about — because she’s lived it. She has seen where those mistakes lead and now encourages others to follow her in living a more conscious, committed, and fulfilled life as a single mother.
“My hope for you today,” she said at the Life of a Single Mom’s Conference in 2016, “is that you will learn what it is to walk from strength to strength.”
One pregnant mother feared she wouldn’t be welcome at church. The unmarried 21-year-old thought she’d be judged by the congregation. When a friend invited her to a local single mom’s group sponsored by TLSM, however, she decided to take a chance and give it a try. “I now have a church home and know that I can do this with God’s help,” she wrote. “Thank you, TLSM!”
Other single moms said the support groups gave them new hope and helped them find meaning in their lives. “I came to my single moms group broken,” one woman explained. She was suicidal when she came to a support group and found compassionate caregivers ready to assist her. “It fed my spirit, restored my soul, and gave me a reason to live… my single moms group opened my eyes and continues to build me up today.”
According to the organization’s internal statistics, 94% of single moms said they felt more empowered after attending a single-moms support group, and 93% said a TLSM event changed their lives and families for the better.
“Jennifer Maggio has a beautiful and authentic story. Her work impacts not only single mothers but women in every stage of life.” — Kerri Weems, Co-Pastor of Celebration Church in Jacksonville, FL
Participation in TLSM groups often leads to becoming more active in the local church as well. Single moms in the ministry’s group are four times more likely to connect with their church. Churches that host these support programs have seen a 58% increase in the number of single parents in the congregation — which is good news for all involved. The Life of a Single Mom is a conduit bringing women to a life of faith and fulfillment.
“Thank you for being such an inspiring example of obedience and faithfulness,” wrote Mercy in a testimonial. “Thank you for making a difference for single moms.”
“That temporary circumstance doesn’t define you,” she declared on stage in a keynote speech. “Too many of us are living in a temporary circumstance, and it becomes the definition of who we are. That thing that happens to us becomes the definition of who we are.”
When I saw my friend’s post, my heart went out to her. I wanted to do something to offer my support — more than simply pressing a like button — but it’s hard to know how to help someone tackle their personal challenges. That’s why it’s so important to have an online resource built and run by community leaders who know what single motherhood is all about and have the experience to give solid advice and encouragement.
The Life of a Single Mom is an inspiration and a necessity to so many women and families facing times of hardship. These online resources and support groups help people to overcome their doubts, sins, and fears so that they can grow in love and wisdom for years to come.
“I’m the girl who should have never had it all work out,” she said tearfully in an interview. “ made every mistake you could possibly think of, but God has done such a restoration in my life. He’s shown me what true joy is.”