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‘Can you sew up my teddy bear?’

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By Ken Begley

I want to talk with you today about a new organization in Washington County called The Mary Ministry.

It’s named after The Most Blessed Virgin Mother of Jesus Christ and focuses on changing the lives of single mothers who are raising children through a training and mentoring program.

But first I want to tell you about the quote that is the headline of this column.

The above question to a school teacher came from a small child in grade school being raised by a hard-working, exhausted, single mom. It seems the mom was overwhelmed by life and a lot of small things like that teddy bear just didn’t get done.

That same school teacher told me that about 50 percent of the students in school are now raised by single parents. It’s tough to raise children with two parents. It’s nearly impossible for most people to raise kids with just one.

Sometimes it’s not just a teddy bear that needs to be sewed up. One teacher had a student tell her “I got to go home early. Mom lost her job.” Yeah, life is tough for single moms. It can be even tougher for their children.

Years ago, I heard a man who was born to a billionaire proclaim to the media that he had won the “gene lottery.” He went on to say that by no effort of his own, he had been lucky enough to be the son of a wealthy man. The impact of this unearned blessing meant that his entire life was profoundly different than almost all of the rest of the world.

But you know what?

I’m telling you right now that if you were born in a house with two good parents, then you were incredibly blessed and you ought to get down on your knees and thank God for it. In fact, you too also won the “gene lottery” through no effort of your own.

Why?

Because nationally, children of single parents account for:

1) 63 percent of all teenage suicides
2) 70 percent of all teenage pregnancies
3)  71 percent of adolescent chemical/substance abuse
4) 80 percent of all prison inmates
5) 90 percent of all homeless and runaway children

Most people will just wring their hands after hearing that and say “Isn’t that sad” or “I can’t change the world” and go on with their lives. Then again, others will say “I can’t change the world, but maybe I can change my community.”

Local citizens and Mary Ministry board members Teresa Miller, Rebecca Carrico, Lynn Foster, Kim Nance and Emma Caroll are in that second category of folks. Mrs. Miller of the Springfield United Methodist Church is the director of The Mary Ministry, which is non-denominational.

She said that she first got the idea of starting this program from something that local lawyer Susan McCain said to her. Susan told her that a lot of these mothers that she dealt with legally needed a mother themselves, that they did not know their rights or where to go to for help. That many times they were all alone in trying to raise these kids without the father.

The Mary Ministry volunteer mentors and board members are from the professional fields of teaching, law, nursing, human resources, banking, and social services. They facilitate, not dictate. They listen and pray. They refer and hold your hand. They love and not judge. They stand by you, when you need help.

The Mary Ministry has meetings with the single mothers on the second Thursday and fourth Friday of every month at the Wesley Family Life Center adjacent to the Springfield United Methodist Church. The mothers are encouraged to bring their children with them.

They then share a warm meal and inviting atmosphere. Hugs, smiles, acceptance and encouragement is the order of business. There are workshops tailored to the needs of the mothers. The children will have their own separate workshops involving homework help and tutoring along with bible study, character education and fun.

This is open to all single mothers and mothers-to-be, to include Spanish speakers, and even single grandmothers that are raising their grandkids.
The primary goal is to not just meet the immediate needs of these families; it is a Christ and Holy Spirit-inspired program. These women believe that all children are gifts from God and therefore they are intentional with their ministry toward them. They provide a supportive and non-threatening environment. They encourage spiritual growth and believe it is necessary for a fulfilled life.

It doesn’t get any better than that.

Curious about helping?

The ministry can always use volunteers for preparing and serving food, the children’s ministry, lead small support groups, mentor a single mother, office work, workshop speakers, friend/fund raisers and many other areas.

It’s not a good program.

It’s a GREAT program.

I hope a lot of single moms give it shot.

It could change your life.

It could change your children’s lives.

It could change them forever.

Think about it.

Writer’s note: The next meeting is on Thursday, September 12th, 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm, at the Wesley Family Life Center adjacent to the Springfield United Methodist Church. Single mothers and volunteers can contact Teresa Miller at Mary.Ministry.2013@gail.com or 859-805-0757. The website is www.ourchurch.com/member/t/themaryministry/ . Donations can be sent to Mary Ministry, P.O. Box 97, Springfield, KY 40069.