One Senior Capstone group donated time and effort to provide a relaxing night for single mothers and their children.
Amanda Bertke, Erin Berberich, and Sarah Chapman collaborated with The Glen at St. Joseph to bring awareness to the issue of single mothers living in poverty.
The Glen is a Dayton organization that provides assistance to single mothers who are transitioning out of poverty. Kelli Kinnear, project mentor and director of ministry and service, said CJ has maintained a good working relationship with this organization for a number of years.
The group decided to focus on one aspect of life these women rarely have time to enjoy.
“We worked with The Glen and some of the single moms to put together a movie night for the kids,” Bertke said. “This way the moms could have some alone time to themselves, since they don't often get the chance.”
In late March, the girls provided dinner and playtime to 12 children, followed by a showing of Frozen. The group also recruited a number of underclassmen from CJ to assist with the event. Bertke said it was a successful evening for all.
“It was a really good experience for us to interact with the kids, and it felt nice to be able to give the moms some time to themselves,” she said.
In order to accomplish a successful night for the families, the group members pulled from their past service experiences and conducted research on the population of single mothers.
“For my junior service project, I worked with the Big Brothers/Big Sisters organization, and Sarah and Erin worked with The Glen,” Bertke said. “Through these projects, we gained experience with single moms and their children, and we wanted to learn more about them. We researched statistics about single moms and any personal stories we could find.”
Kinnear said the research was good motivation for the students to reach out.
“We tried to focus on the specific needs of women who maybe don’t have the resources that other women might, and what kind of struggles they encounter,” she said. “For some of these mothers, they’re working, some of them are going back to school or getting some kind of degree, trying to get GEDs, and they have children. They just don’t get a lot of free time.”
Bertke expressed that the more she found out about a single mother’s lifestyle, the more she wanted to help.
“It amazes me how much these mothers are able to accomplish while being the only caretaker for their child or children,” she said. “One thing we thought was very powerful was that out of 32 families that The Glen assists, only one or two of them have a father figure that is regularly in their lives.”
Despite the statistics, the group remains hopeful for the families.
“I really hope to make people more aware of all the struggles that single mothers face, and of the different projects and organizations out there that can assist the mothers,” Bertke said. “We hope this capstone project will be passed on to future seniors in the hopes that they will continue to bring about that awareness.”