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I Am Brave Foundation hosts first event for single mothers

The I Am Brave Foundation held its first-annual back-to-school kickoff for single mothers on Saturday, July 21.

I Am Brave Foundation was founded in 2017 by Oxford residents Deanna Minga and Shalonda Smith, who said their mission is to provide resources for women in need, especially single mothers. A single mom herself, Minga said she understands the struggles that often come with raising children, and the benefit of having community support.

“I just have a heart for other women who have gone through difficult situations. I have been a single mom for about 12 years now, so single moms have a place in my heart,” Minga said. “I wanted to reach out to other women who were going through difficult situations and let them know that God has a plan for them and they’re not alone.”

Three women attended the kickoff event with their children, but Minga said she’s expecting more will attend future quarterly events the foundation is hosting.

Several local organizations and individuals donated their time and materials for the event, Minga said. Attendees were treated to pampering courtesy of a local Mary Kay consultant, free lunch and childcare, and were sent home with door prizes and giveaway items from local businesses.

Thomas Chandler, a representative with Modern Woodmen of America, said he wanted his organization to get involved as well.

“Going forward, the group is going to be talking about nutrition tips and financial tips, and that’s where I come in,” Chandler said. “We are a not-for-profit company that gives back to the community. I had some service project money on hand, and was able to go and spend $500 on school supplies.”

Attendees were able to sift through backpacks, crayons, notebooks, pencils and more to gather whatever their children needed to put their best foot forward on the first day of school, Chandler said.

While I Am Brave Foundation’s main goal is to support women in Lafayette County, other resources the foundation is working to provide are nutritional and financial guidance, as well as résumé-building for better job opportunities. Equipping single mothers with community resources is important, Minga said.

“We also got connected with another nonprofit, called Fathers in the Field, who reached out to us after seeing the event,” Minga said. “It’s a mentoring program for moms who have sons to use, especially if their fathers have abandoned them or just aren’t in their lives. If the dad is completely absent, these are Christian men who are signing up and saying, ‘I’m going to spend time with your son and let them see what a father should be like.’”

While she admits the foundation is still in its early stages, Minga said she has a clear direction for what the group is called to do and the various ways they can help others. For example, the group hosted the first Santa’s Workshop 38655 event last year, to raise money for an individual in need. It was such a success, she said, that it’ll become an annual event.

At the end of the day, Minga said, I Am Brave is about empowering women in each season of their lives.

For more information or to donate to the I Am Brave Foundation, visit https://iambravefoundation.org.