BY SARA MILLER
One of the most stressful jobs a woman can have is the role of motherhood. Keeping your children out of trouble, helping them with their homework and preparing them for life are just a few tasks that may seem difficult at first, but are worth the effort in the end. However, being a single mother, the role of motherhood comes with a new set of challenges that can often make a woman feel overwhelmed with the emotions of anxiety and self-doubt. According to Statistic Canada, about eight in ten lone parent families were female lone-parent families or about 13%. In addition, lone female parents are one of the most impoverished groups in the country with 21% living below the low-income cut off.
As a former single mother, Karen Brown experienced the same struggles that millions of women in Canada deal with daily. After witnessing one of her church member’s juggle the responsibilities of schooling and taking care of her child, Brown as well as other women in the group, pooled their resources to assist the single mother. Realizing the lack of resources that were available to help single mothers and their families, Brown created the SMILE Foundation to address the problem. Founded in 2011, the SMILE foundation (Single Mothers Inspiring Leadership in Education) is a Canadian non-profit organization that strives to help low-income single mothers improve their lives through education. The SMILE foundation offers several programs to single-mothers including parenting education workshops, mentoring programs and employment training workshops. In addition to offering programs, the SMILE Foundation also offers up to ten $1,000 bursaries annually to low-income, single mothers in Ontario and Jamaica who are pursuing a post-secondary education. To date, the organization has distributed approximately $20,000 in bursaries.
With over twenty years of teaching experience, as well as a current position as Vice President of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario, Campbell believes that an education is the key to unlocking doors of opportunity and uplifting families out of poverty.
“The limitations placed on a mother if they don’t have something to assist them like an education can severely impact opportunities.” said Campbell.
Dealing with the stress of being a single mother is difficult however; Campbell says it is important for mothers to plan some alone time for themselves. “You also have to balance time between yourself and the kids,” Campbell said.
“The key is self-care. To take care of your children properly, you need to first take care of your self. Mothers also need to reach out for help when they need it because there are resources available that can help them.”
On November 4, 2016, the SMILE Foundation will be holding its fourth annual Burgeon Gala and Awards Ceremony at the Yorkdale Holiday Inn. Hosted by Sean “Subliminal” Marciette, the gala will be a night of celebration and empowerment as the 2016 bursary award recipients will be recognized. Media personality, author and Founder of GIRL TALK Empowerment, Katie Zeppieri will also be the keynote speaker for the evening. Music and entertainment will be provided by DJ Mike Gibbs.
Location: Yorkdale Holiday Inn, York Hall
Address: 3450 Dufferin St. Toronto, ON, M6A 2V1
Time: 6:00pm to 11:00 pm. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. – Dinner at 7:30 p.m.
Price: $65 for Adults $40 for Children
Proceeds from every ticket purchased will be directly used to provide education bursaries to low-income single mothers as well as their children. For more information on the bursary, please visit the SMILE Foundation website at www.thesmilefoundation.ca or contact 289-475-5106.