Darian Graivshark
via https://thelifeofasinglemom.com

A vast majority of single mothers typically feel alone when raising their child.

Jennifer Maggio, founder and CEO of The Life of a Single Mom, felt just that way when she became pregnant at 17. This was after her mother died at the age of 32. When Maggio became pregnant, her father wouldn't allow her to live at home, so she found herself living in her car for a while.

"I ended up having a bouncing baby boy," Maggio said. "After that, I began attending a community college. Then, I became pregnant again at the age of 19. I felt so alone and even had thoughts of taking my own life. I couldn't do that, however, because I knew how it felt to not have a parent. I couldn't leave my children alone."

As time went on, Maggio began to wonder if anyone else understood how hard life was as a single mother. Her journey to this discovery first began when Maggio decided to start going back to a local church and received a job via Corporate America.

Maggio eventually started a group at her local church for single moms, where they would come together to support one another, offer a lending hand, or give words of wisdom. This small group began small, continued to grow, and turned into what is now known as The Life of a Single Mom.

"The organization is nondenominational, even though it began in a church," Maggio said. "I do believe, however, that all churchs should have a formal single moms organization."

Louisiana ranks first in women who are single mothers. Being a single mother not only affects a family, but it affects businesses and communities. A child of a single mom is ten times more likely to drop out of high school, five times more likely to commit suicide, and thirty-two times more likely to run away.

There are about 473,000 children who are raised by single mothers. However, the Life of a Single Mom organization supports more than 82,000 single mothers annually in Louisiana. The goal of the organization is to educate single mothers on what they can do with the challenges that they are faced.

"Aside from support, we provide single mothers with free exercise programs, fresh produce, free parenting education, and home improvement projects for things that a man might otherwise do."

Every year, a National Single Moms Conference is held in Baton Rouge. This year, however, it's expanding outside of the state and reaching Texas, Florida, and Missouri. The expansion came about after Maggio saw how many women were traveling many hours, and miles, just to attend the conference in Baton Rouge. To her, it really showed how desperate these women are to connect and grow as a single mother. This year, they expect over 3,000 women to attend the conferences.

"Income we use for the organization comes from generous donations, fundraisers, and sometimes grants that are given for things like our exercise programs," Maggio said.

The most important thing to remember if you're a single mother is that your past doesn't define you. It is just a part of your story. For more information visit https://thelifeofasinglemom.com/. Help is also available en Español.'

Follow Darian on Twitter @dariangshark.