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A group of single Black moms give each other a break when they need it most

A night off is something these moms could use now more than ever.
/ Source: TODAY

On Saturdays, Sonya Singleton’s son has basketball practice. After spending more than an hour at the gym plus travel time to and from, Singleton rarely feels like cooking for her two boys. When a new program started that delivered professional prepared dinners to single mothers every Saturday in December, she welcomed the break.

“To come home after being at practice … and someone rings my doorbell and there’s food sitting outside, that’s the best feeling in the world,” Singleton, a government contract specialist, told TODAY Parents. “It makes you feel that you are seen. I don’t know another way to explain that: Someone else is caring about what you are going through.”

As a single mom, sometimes Sonya Singleton feels overwhelmed. That's why when Single Mom Defined offered free meals every Saturday of December, she was excited to sign up for them. Courtesy Sonya Singleton

Called, Moms Night Out, the delivery program was started by Heather Hopson to help some of the women in her parenting group, Single Mom Defined, which breaks stereotypes about Black single mothers. Singleton joined the group when she moved to a suburb of Pittsburgh and immediately started a book club for some of the moms.

In the pandemic, Single Mom Defined looked for extra ways to ease some of the moms’ burdens. Providing a meal, like someone might get from DoorDash or Grubhub, seemed like the perfect way to help. Hopson said the idea came to her when insomnia kept her late-night texting with Naomi Ritter who works at the EAT Initiative, a food security nonprofit in Pittsburgh.

“We wanted a support system and a release for moms to not only connect them with food … but to also help them thrive,” she told TODAY Parents. “Moms are always taking care of other people and this is an opportunity to not have to cook, but also to connect with others, advise on opportunities and get in some self-care.”

When Sonya Singleton joined Single Mom Defined, a group changing how people think of Black single moms in Pittsburgh, she started a book club. She enjoys talking with other women who understand what she's going through. Courtesy Sonya Singleton

Every Saturday in December, more than 100 single moms in the Pittsburgh area receive family-style three-course meals prepared by Claudy Pierre, a chef who founded the EAT Initiative. A third group, 412 Food Rescue, delivers the meals. Each week, Hopson includes a self-care item, like a face mask or a journal. This past weekend, IKEA donated toys.

“They’re relieved,” Hopson said. “Moms are doing a lot of virtual programming to connect, so basically it's that village.”

Moms Night Out is just one aspect of how Single Mom Defined helps single Black moms in Pittsburgh. Women started babysitting co-ops, book clubs and other groups to help one another out. Courtesy Lindsay Garvin / Motor Mouth Multimedia

Singleton loves that she has a group of other moms that she can connect to that truly understand what she’s going through.

“I prayed and this group appeared and it was a blessing in disguise,” she said. “I don't really have anybody to vent to and I don't want to go home and be in a bad mood with my kids … (Here) you reach out to another mom who may have had a great day and she up-lifts your spirit.”

Volunteers with 412 Food Rescue deliver food to single moms receiving family meals every Saturday in December. Moms Night Out is a collaboration among several area nonprofits trying to ease the burden single moms face especially around the holidays. Courtesy Lindsay Garvin / Motor Mouth Multimedia

While Hopson feels glad to create a space for singles moms to receive support and foster friendships, she also hopes to empower the moms to speak up for themselves, their families and their community.

“We want them to thrive,” she explained. “We're connecting them to advocacy opportunities so they can know how to advocate for themselves and for their family and change things like our family leave policies or paid time off.”

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