Grant Gives Relief, Strength to Single Moms in Iowa
“Three years ago at this time, I was living my dream — I had a happy marriage, was able to stay home full time with my kids, and my husband and I were in the process of adopting two little girls from foster care, increasing our family from four children to six,” said Sarah, who did not want her last name to be used. “Then, my husband suddenly died. Overnight, I went from living the dream to being a single mother, wracked with grief over my own loss and having six little hearts that I had to help heal.”
Sarah and her children were among some 75 single moms and 80 children who took part in “Single Moms’ Morning Out” April 30. It was a mercy and outreach event organized by Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Urbandale, Iowa, and made possible with a $5,750 LCMS “Stand With Your Community” (SWYC) grant. These grants are part of the Synod’s efforts leading up to the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.
About 250 volunteers provided car care, food service, prayer, encouragement, hair styling, child care and vacation Bible school-style activities for children. The planning for the entire event was led by two lay members, Penny Schramm and Jenny Lappin.
“Our event was greatly aided by the SWYC grant. It was a blessing to start with that amount of funding so we could dream big and offer the mothers and children who attended a beautiful, God-glorifying experience,” said Chris Thomson, Gloria Dei’s executive director. “Our plan for next year is to recruit two other churches to carry out the same ministry and help them make it a success based on what we learned and experienced.”
Thomson said the idea for Single Moms’ Morning Out came from Gloria Dei’s senior pastor, the Rev. Joe Meyer, who had seen this type of ministry at Redeemer Lutheran Church in Peoria, Ill. The congregation chose April 30 since it was close to Mother’s Day.
Prior to the event, the congregation partnered with a local radio station to help spread the word to single moms in the community and garner donations of clothing and gift cards.
“The partnership with 107.1 went very well. They were very pleased that we did all the work surrounding the event and they just had to advertise for us on the radio,” Thomson said. “It was a great way for us to get the word out.”
Since hosting the event, the congregation has sought to evaluate how well it went by seeking feedback from the families who participated.
“We could not be more pleased with how it went. God was clearly over and through the planning stages and the entire day of the event. We had wonderful testimonies from the women who were here, and this event brought our church community together in ways we have not seen before,” Thomson said. “It was a great example of how when we bless others, we are the ones who receive the greatest blessing.”
“I came away from the morning so incredibly blessed,” Sarah said. “My little ones, who had grumbled that morning about being awakened so early on a rainy, non-school day, had the most amazing time as well. The way you loved our family and helped to strengthen and encourage me was straight from God. I have learned on this journey that while the many blessings our family has experienced have come through the hands of others, they are truly from God first.”