There are any number of ways for a woman to become a single mother, either by choice, by not marrying the father, or through adoption; or by circumstances, such as divorce or death. But, no matter how one ends up in the single mom category, the going is sometimes tough.
It can be difficult learning to budget, and for the suddenly single, the added stress of finding employment can be overwhelming, not to mention all the other issues parents have to deal with on a day-to-day basis. Some have less than cooperative co-parents, and navigating the rough waters around child support, visitation and even differences approaches to discipline, nutrition, medical treatment and extracurricular activities can take their toll. Social isolation also is a concern. Many times single mothers don’t feel like they “belong” with other moms, and occasionally, even churches make them feel less than welcome.
Statistics bear that out. Two-thirds of single moms don’t attend church, and less than 1 percent of evangelical Christian churches in the United States have a sustainable single moms program, according to statistics gathered and cited by Beloved. Other risk factors for children in single parent homes include living in poverty, being victims of child abuse, dying by suicide and dropping out of high school.
Megan DelaRosa, one of the founders of Beloved (www.belovedministries.com), a ministry to single mothers, said one of the intentions of the ministry is to create a community through the life experiences of single moms.
“Many of these moms feel ostracized from their own social groups and from the church, so creating a space where they belong is huge,” she said.
Beloved was founded five years ago by DelaRosa, Alannah O’Quinn, Kim Fuller and Graceful Goods founder Sharon Roberts, and provides its participants respite, encouragement and spiritual support as they navigate the choppy waters of their new normal.
In addition to heading up Beloved, DelaRosa is a licensed associate professional counselor at Centered for Life Christian Counseling Center. She’s a former middle school teacher and coach at Frederica Academy, and was a student pastor at St. Simons Community Church. When she was a young adult, her parents divorced after 30 years of marriage, and watching her mother cope with all the changes inspired her to find a way to help. Three years later, DelaRosa went through her own divorce, and as she pieced her life back together, she had a realization that when tragedy strikes, life is not over.
Motivated by her experiences, DelaRosa wants other women to know what God will do for them. She works with her friend Alannah O’Quinn, who has been involved in Bible study leadership for many years. Other members of the leadership team include Kim Fuller and GraceFull Goods owner Sharon Roberts.
The ministry keeps organizers on their toes, she said, adding leaders are never quite sure anyone will show up, but they keep coming.
“We average 85 women per gathering, along with 70 children,” DelaRosa said. “We meet every other Tuesday night from 6:30-8 p.m.”
Meetings resume on Aug. 27 at St. Simons Community Church. Meetings will also begin Sept. 17 at The Chapel, in Brunswick. This is the ministry’s first foray into Brunswick.
A typical evening begins with dinner, fellowship, announcements and giveaways, followed by a speaker who addresses the entire group. For the last part of the evening, the women break into small groups and hold discussions.
“We have been known to have a surprise dance party or friendly competition to spice things up, and keep the women on their toes,” she said.
The overarching purpose of Beloved is to encourage women to form a relationship with God.
“We also do our best to connect these women to God, reminding them that their lives are not over,” she said. “He sees them, he is with them and he is for them; if they keep their eyes directed towards him, they will find life.”
Beloved also pairs single moms with mentors that can help guide and direct them in their daily lives with parenting, relationships, financial guidance, spiritual growth, emotional well-being and other challenges.
Another way Beloved goes the extra mile is to provide free child care for children up to age 12 during its every-other-week-meetings. This child care is more than a babysitting service, however.
“We are very intentional in our children’s ministry; believing that Beloved is truly two ministries in one – one for single moms and one for their children,” DelaRosa explained. “The children are also provided a meal and a biblical lesson in a large group; after (that) they split into small groups.”
The children’s ministry is an important piece to the mission of Beloved, she said.
“Their children are surrounded by men and women who are intentionally showing them God’s love and acceptance,” she said.
Drawing close to Christ gave DelaRosa hope, and it’s that hope she wants to pass on to other women.
“He will pick them up out of their pit, and place them on firm ground,” she said. “He will take the ashes of their lives, and replace them with a beautiful life of blessings.”