By Krista Wilson
Listen Up Lansing Staff Writer
Lana White, a Lansing resident and single mother of a newborn, said she was able to get help from Women’s Center of Greater Lansing that didn’t just help her with her child, but with her career.
“The center helped me develop my resume and I ended up getting a job that I was qualified for,” said White. “I know it doesn’t sound like a big deal, but I had job after job where I was actually over-qualified to work there.”
The center helps to empower women and build up their confidence in a world that isn’t easy for single moms, said White.
For single mothers in the Lansing community, the center is just one of several programs that offer assistance, which could make single parenting a little easier.
“Since at least half of all children will spend some portion of their childhood raised by a single mother, the well-being of single mother families is a concern,” said Jennie Brand, associate professor of sociology at University of California.
Pastor Stan Parker of Faith Fellowship Church said, “Our programs are joint with the Eastside Community Action Center. Together, we offer a food bank, free clothing, parenting classes, personal adjustment counseling, support groups, and computer labs for single moms in Lansing.”
“Everything we offer is free,” said Parker. “We even run an afterschool program for kids that are ages four to 14, where we have homework help, character building, and occasional field trips.”
The church, located at 1001 Dakin St. started these non-profit programs in 2007, seven years after it was established.
“Our center supports women that are in crisis pregnancies,” said Tracy Warren, education director at Shared Pregnancy Women’s Center in Lansing. “Usually these women are single and without a job; our goal is just to help them become more stable.”
Warren said the SPWC gives women assistance based off a point system; for every 10 minutes the mothers are there, they earn one point and something like a stroller is five points.
They can come in once a week for a class about breastfeeding, toilet training, immunizations, childhood illnesses and more, Warren said.
“We have everything a child would need who is three years old and under; strollers, diapers, clothes and toys,” said Warren.
“Once a woman has a positive pregnancy test, she can start coming here; we even help women get transportation to the doctor,” Warren said.
“Our mission is to try to make sure the kids have a good start and to do that we have to help the mothers in the community,” said Warren.
The SPWC, located at 503 N. Walnut St., has been active since 1985.
Brand said mothers who have disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds or low socio-economic status are most likely to be displaced from jobs, causing them to face additional hardship while raising their children.
Parker said if it weren’t for the church’s program, a lot of the kids would not be able to have a meal outside of school.
“We should be doing more to ensure that these children don’t suffer such long-term consequences of their mothers’ involuntary employment losses,” said Brand. “This is beyond the children’s control, as well as beyond the control of their mothers.
“These single mothers face all kind of challenges,” said Parker. “Some work two jobs and barely have time to see about their kid’s schooling, some are domestic violence victims, and some struggle with depression.”
Many of the single mothers also have bad credit, said Parker.
“This causes them to live in substandard housing or they have to pay high rent, which doesn’t help their situation” Parker said.
Linda Brockway, home-ownership coordinator for Lansing Affordable Homes said, “Single women with kids have all this money borrowed and they don’t’ meet their debt-to-income ratio.”
Brockway said most single mother’s high debt is from trying to support their child by buying things on credit.
Parker said the budget for the programs are $60,000 a year, half of that is from grant money.
“The sororities and fraternities at Michigan State University have food drives, which they contribute to our food bank,” said Parker. “Jackson National Life Insurance also has an employee food drive where they donate the food to us.”
Parker said a lot of women do take advantage of the different programs, and “what we found out is women talk, we didn’t have any trouble with spreading the word when we started.”