On Saturday, April 18, 2009, I attended the 6th Annual Heal A Woman Heal A Nation Conference at Coppin State University. Co-directors Mothyna James-Brightful and Monoka Tyson of Heal A Woman stated that they strive to rejuventate, re-energize and revitalize the life of sisterhood since we are our sister's keeper, her best friend, her confidant, her reflection and her support. The purpose of the conference is to empower woman to encourage the growth of our communities. The workshops, which I found every exciting were entitled, Taking Care of Me First, Rejuvenating The Dream, Balancing Goals And Decisions, and Creating A Balanced Life.
The portion of the conference that I was interested in was entitled Raising Him Alone. Raising Him Alone is a separate organization that supports single mothers. It is a fact that 85% of households in the US are headed by single parents and most of those are single mothers. They also give support to men who are learning to be fathers or are trying to reconnect with their children. Events have been given in Chicago, New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, and Virginia. The workshops included: Father Factor: Addressing the Pain of Our Sons Experiencing An Absent Father; Coping With The Day to Day Struggles of Being A Single Mother: Making Ends Meet On A Tight Budget and A Mother's Role in Supporting Manhood Development. I attended all of these workshops and I learned soooo much about the decisions I have made and the impact that they have had on me and Man-Child.
The luncheon was the best part of the conference (ok - the food was ok). During the luncheon, there was a panal of Celebrity MOMS. Dr. Malalia A. Hines, Principal of John Hope College Prep High School in Chicago and Mother of Hip Hop Artist and Actor Common; Dr. Brenda Green, Professor of English and Executive Director of the Center for Black Literatur at Medgar Evers College and Mother of Hip Hop Artist Talib Kweli; Sheron Smith, Author and Motivational Speaker and Mother of Hip Hop Artist Mos Def; Meshelle Forman Shields, Actress, Comedienne and Motivational Speaker, Cassandra Mack, Founder and CEO of Strategies for Empowered Living and Dana Bankins, grandmother who raised Five Sons.
Each of these woman were very open and honest as they shared with the audience their personal trials of raising boys. They discussed fathers, abuse, fighting gangs, decision making, dealing with the court system, facing jail time with their sons, over compensating with gifts, faith, importance of prayer, taking care of self, reaching out for help, and knowing when enough is enough. I found Dr. Mahaila Hines to be wonderful. She encouraged All mothers to take a personal look at themselves to find the answers to many of the questions we had on raising our sons.
The day was very refresing, and as they stated at the beginning of the conference, REJUVENATING. I met a lot of mothers with sons in jail, hospitals, dealing with children with ADHD, teen fathers, those trying to accept and understand sexual orientation, and so much more. The one common theme, though every circumstance was different, we were looking for support and encouragement for our sons. I grabbed many handouts, collected several free books, 10 Steps out of Puberty: A Teen's Guide to Successful Living by LaMarr Shields, Raising Hi Alone by David Miller; The Single Mom's Little Book of Wisdom by Cassandra Mack; and an audio book "Raising God's Children Alone". The only disappointing part for me was that many of the programs offered were for boys between the age of 10- 12 or 14-18. I questioned "What happens to 13 yr olds?" However, I did get a couple of leads for mentoring programs and tutoring groups that I plan to look into.
When I chose the name for this blog, I never thought that there was an organization dedicated to helping single mothers. I am glad my Sistah-friends encouraged me to write about some of my experiencing so that I may also be able to help others as others have helped me.
Please checkout their website www.raisinghimalone.com for more information and locations of conference near you.