Single mother’s journey inspires ministry that’s served 1 million other moms

Single mother’s journey inspires ministry that’s served 1 million other momsJennifer Maggio (The Life of a Single Mom/Baton Rouge Family Photography)

I was 19 years old, single, and pregnant with my second child. I was living in government housing and utilizing food stamps and welfare to make ends meet. I had no money, few friends, and even less hope. 

Working two jobs while going to college at night, I was often overwhelmed and exhausted. 

I eventually found myself huddled on a cold, bathroom floor, in a 400-square-foot apartment, contemplating taking my own life. 

I didn’t know how I could have a second child as a single mom. I was barely making it with the first! It seemed like my situation was an impossible one, and I was desperate for a lifeline that I was certain would never come.

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This wasn’t my first experience with single parenting. 

A drunk driver killed my mother when I was only 17 months old, leaving my dad a single parent overnight. 

The pain of that experience led my dad down a dark path of alcoholism and womanizing that forged a shaky foundation for my future. 

The years that followed included much trauma, physical abuse, and a number of perpetrators of sexual abuse. 

To find myself a second-generation single parent who may raise my children alone for twenty years was unthinkable.

My story is not unique. 

There are approximately 22 million single parents in the United States today (Annie E. Casey Foundation, Kids Count Data, 2018) with at least 82% led by mothers. 

While data varies from source to source, at minimum, 75% of all abortions conducted in the U.S. in 2019 were to single women. Some sources suggested it was as high as 94.6%. 

This is not news to the pregnancy help centers across the country, which are on the front lines fighting for these families. 

As one pregnancy help worker recently told me, “I want to help these moms beyond the clinic, but I don’t even know where to start. There’s so much need.”

Fast forward 25 years from my bathroom floor moment. 

Those two babies are now adults with children of their own. They are thriving, college-educated, and successful, and we somehow made it. But I would be remiss not to mention the long, winding, journey and the countless helping hands along the way. 

There were many who babysat while I attended college at night, offered a warm meal when I had no money, extended a hug when I had not had adult conversation in weeks, or even offered parenting wisdom when I desperately needed it. 

The army that surrounded me during the darkest moments of my life is the necessary army that it will take to serve the needs of single mothers today, and that army must go beyond the moment where she chooses life. 

There’s no doubt the complexity of the single mother-led family is wrought with challenges that can seem insurmountable. The list of obstacles is long, including financial concerns, parenting woes, emotional wellness, and spiritual growth, among others. 

So, how can an overworked and often under-resourced pregnancy center minister to the needs of a single mother who often faces a barrage of hurdles that will require more than a one-time touch, or even a dozen touches? 

I began to ponder that question some 12 years ago. 

I never forgot that moment, huddled on the bathroom floor, or the many steps I took thereafter. And I began to analyze each step and what it may take to get other single moms to their place of hope, freedom, safety, and contentment. 

Although I had found success in corporate America, those questions and ideas kept me up at night. Thus, The Life of a Single Mom was born.

The Life of a Single Mom
is one resource that pregnancy help organizations can add to their toolchest for providing ongoing service to those moms. As of December 2022, our organization has served its one-millionth single mother. 

That’s right; one million single moms have been served over the last 12 years through our efforts. 

A hopeless, pregnant single mom who wasn’t certain she could make it, but somehow did, went on to help address the multi-faceted challenges facing single mothers with a comprehensive approach, including establishing more than 1,750 single mother support groups in churches and centers, establishing online life skills education with over 150 course options, and counseling thousands. 

Tweet This: A hopeless, pregnant single mom, uncertain she could make it, went on to help address the multi-faceted challenges facing single mothers

In addition, the organization provides hundreds of videos, podcasts, eBooks, articles, newsletters, single mom conferences, and even some financial support programs annually (while funding lasts). 

I still remember a young, widowed, single mother of four, who wrapped her arms around me in a local church some 25 years ago. 

She offered a smile and a ray of hope. She had been where I was now going, and her presence inspired me to push through. She became my Sunday school teacher and her wisdom, bright smile, and encouragement, was the lifeline I so desperately needed.

The army it will take to serve single mothers, often starts in a small room in a pregnancy center, and I applaud every pregnancy help worker who is holding the hands of a mother who isn’t certain what to do next. 

That journey will carry on beyond that center into the arms of churches, agencies, and individuals willing to walk with these mothers for the years to come. 

Editor's note: Jennifer Maggio is the CEO and Founder of The Life of a Single Mom, a national nonprofit committed to seeing no single mom walk alone. Author of four books and national speaker, Maggio’s story has been featured in countless media venues, including The New York Times, Daystar Television, Power Women, and more and was named one of the Top Ten Most Influential Leaders in America. 


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