By Chris Ly
New Organizing Project blogger
Being a single parent was always hard for my mother. She has a total of four children, with me as the only son and as the baby of the family. My dad passed at a young age, and my mother never remarried. It seemed harder for us to enjoy “family” outings because there isn’t the other parent figure around. I’ve always wondered about my dad but never questioned. I suppose it was a sensitive topic. I did, however, wonder how my mom did it. How was she able to raise four children on her own? I can barely go through my daily struggles without support from my girlfriend or friends. She’s been doing it all since my dad passed. What’s her driving force to be the best she can be? My grandmother would lend a hand, but the strong will my mother carries vibrated throughout my childhood. Although there were times when she was busy with work, I could always count on her being there.
But being a single mother isn’t easy. Especially now with the economy the way it is. We’re all lucky to have a stable income and help whenever and wherever needed, but I guess she always knew it was gonna be hard on the family. She now works wherever work is offered and gets whatever income she can get. It always amazes me what single mothers are willing to do for their children to get gain opportunities they never had.
Did you know that single parents have to work ten times harder than families with both parents? The income is cut in half and the troubles double. According to The National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies (NACCRRA), in Georgia alone, there are 376,444 single-parent families with children under the age of 18, and only 223,976 of those families are fortunate enough to be in the work force. Nationwide numbers are even more staggering – 10,779,688 single-parent families with children under the age of 18 with only a little of a half, or 5,856,354, who are in the work force.
My sister and I both attend college at the moment and the monetary tribulations never seem to cease. The annual average cost of 4-year state college/university tuition and other fees is about $5,916 in Georgia and $7,610 in the United States. Even with HOPE (that faced cuts, by the way) and financial aid, it’s not enough to cover other costs that need to be paid for. Prices in food, gas and other essentials are increasing and incoming freshmen (and students currently enrolled) need as much financial help as possible. We all have jobs, but that too doesn’t seem to be enough in the constant bills that continue to pile up.
To help students who might be having tough times, I, along with three close friends of mine: Antwan Chambers (Wooster in Ohio), Kevin Villao (Southern Polytech State University) and Thuy Le (Georgia Institute of Technology), have gotten together and started ‘Students with Single Parents’, which is a scholarship program for local youth. We began this because we all have similar experiences; the four of us were raised by single parents and have learned the hardships that come with it. Over the years, we noticed that a lot of our mutual friends were being raised by single parents and saw that they share the same hardships we did. We couldn’t afford a lot, we weren’t able to buy the best clothes, we worked at very young ages and we dealt with a lot of family monetary issues. This seemed like a prevalent problem within the community.
We hope this scholarship will grow into something bigger, but for now, we want to offer this scholarship for local high school students with single parents who experience monetary tribulations. Me, Antwan, Kevin and Thuy all have pledged at least $50 from our own pockets to fund ‘Students with Single Parents’. We hope that community leaders, organizations and individuals will jump on board and donate to the scholarship. This would be a prime example of unity within the community. People of different races and ethnicities donating to one cause that we can all relate to.
If you’re interested in learning more about this scholarship fund, please don’t hesitate to reach out! You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!
Photo credit: http://ontheballparent.com/