By Erin Johnson
More than 900 single mothers are coming together to support each other and to learn how to better help themselves in the third annual Single Mothers Conference at Salt Lake Community College Saturday, Sept. 15 at 8 a.m.
The conference, sponsored by the Bringing Hope to Single Moms Foundation, and Greenbacks. Inc., will feature keynote speaker Leah Crossgove, a resource fair with over 25 Utah service providers and more than 40 break-out sessions featuring seminars on careers, education, parenting and other categories designed to empower single mothers to better handle their homes, careers and personal lives.
“We want to give them some hope,” said Bringing Hope Executive Director Karen Mecham. “They need skills, resources and emotional support.”
This support, Mecham said, comes from allowing mothers to see the achievements of other single moms and realizing that “if the lady sitting next to her can do it, so can she.”
As a former single mother herself, Mecham said she understands the isolation felt by many single moms.
“You feel like you”re not competent to do the job alone, and you feel like you have to,” she said.
Keynote speaker Crossgove is also a single mom and former vice-president of Washington Mutual. Through her motivational talk, Crossgove hopes to demonstrate to single moms what they can achieve through the story of her own success.
“It”s amazing what a woman can do when she puts her heart and mind into it,” Crossgove said. “There is always the fear of wondering if you can do it. We just need to give them the courage and strength to provide for themselves and for their children.”
Several Salt Lake companies volunteered their time and services to help the conference, including the Utah State Department of Child Care which contributed 330 slots for certified day care centers across the state to provide daycare to mothers who attended the conference. The Greenbacks/All a Dollar Store also contributed $30 in products for each mother who attended.
“We are always delighted by the generosity of our community that provides the funds to pay for the conference,” Mecham said. “Food, gifts, advertising, everything we need is either donated in total or in part.”
Mecham started the Bringing Hope to Single Moms Foundation in 1998, even after being told that it wouldn”t work.
“They told us it couldn”t be done. But single moms are hungry for ways to make their families better,” she said.