By Martha Michael
As director for approximately four years and previous member of the board of directors, DaAnne is the face of Single Mothers Outreach. She is a recognizable redhead, seen around the SCV working on the administration, fundraising and morale of the non-profit group.
When asked about her role, it is the people – the members of SMO – who come to DaAnne’s mind. “I am passionately committed to the idea that we can help ease the burden of single parenting,” she explains. “I love seeing our parents transform from near hopelessness to obtaining confidence that comes from realizing they are stronger than they thought, that there are those who truly care about them and their children, and there exists a safety net when they are teetering on the brink of giving up. I receive immense satisfaction in knowing we are truly making a difference for these families.”
Single Mothers Outreach:
We have a dream to expand chapters into other communities. Every week parents from all over the country ask if there is a Single Mothers Outreach in their community. There is a great need for the kinds of programs and services we offer. We believe that strengthening families strengthens communities, and strong communities make this nation strong.
Why She Does It
Director DaAnne Smith: “Why I Help Single Mothers”
Heroes come in the most unexpected packaging. Their backgrounds may vary, but they all posses a common thread of self-sacrifice.
My best friend is my mother-in-law, Dorothy. We enjoy a deep friendship, and over the years Dorothy has shared a lot of stories about her childhood in Denver. She has had an unusual life…
The oldest daughter in an affluent family, they lived a grand life. But after the stock market crashed, Dorothy’s father began self-medicating with alcohol to escape his financial troubles. Because he was a mean drunk, Dottie would often flee the dinner table and climb up a tree with a book to escape the daily fights.
When Dottie was 10, her mother, Annabelle, made the difficult decision to pack up their four children and move outside Denver. This was a highly courageous thing for a woman to do in 1933, and she was ostracized by many. All four children worked the land and Annabelle did everything in her power to keep her children fed and warm, but Dorothy remembers many nights going to
bed hungry. Annabelle sold food and birth control to her neighbors, anything to bring in money. She sometimes asked Dorothy to go into town to beg “Dad” for money when they were desperate.
Though a hard life, it produced good fruit in the development of Dorothy’s character. Even at 85, Dorothy rarely complains and will always do the dutiful thing – self-sacrifice is ingrained into her character. Annabelle gave her a great gift: they rose above their circumstances and became victors instead of victims.
After I married Dorothy’s son and we began having children ourselves, these stories took on a special meaning for me. Child rearing is bone-wearying work and I know how much I relied on my husband to give me a break from the daily demands of children. I could not imagine doing this alone, day after day, without a break. That is when I became an advocate for the often voiceless single mother.
Single mothers are some of our community’s silent heroes. I have never been a single mother, but I was changed by the power of a single mother’s story. Today I am compelled to bring resources, hope and support to single mothers so that they can serve their families well.
Just for the Record
A Few Facts Debunking Myths about SMO
First, we serve both single dads and single moms and their children. Our primary outreach is to women, however, because they generally fall to the bottom of the economic barrel.
Most people are surprised to learn that we serve primarily middle-aged divorcees with grade school and teenage children. Most are not victims of domestic violence, and over 60 percent report incomes under $15,000 per year. Many come to us as a result of worst-case divorce scenarios where the other parent has abandoned the family.
We rarely give out financial assistance; instead, we empower parents with financial literacy and technology training and offer resources to help them keep their costs down, such as our free organic produce and clothing distribution programs.
Another thing people in general don’t understand is that single parents often feel very isolated in Santa Clarita. They don’t connect with marrieds with children, or with singles. They are a unique group: single parents understand single parents and they long for connection.
Members of SMO have opportunities that go beyond socializing with other parents. The organization hosts a number of educational courses, perhaps most importantly, those fostering economic independence, such as the Lifeforward Workshops. Sponsored by Zonta of Santa Clarita, instructors teach goal-setting, financial skills, communication, job search techniques, etc. SMO also holds a course for its members called “Financial Peace University,” a video series by Dave Ramsey.