Photography by Randy Bacon
My upbringing was normal; even sheltered most would say. My parents, high-school graduates, worked long hours in a factory throughout my childhood. Hard, blue-collar workers with hearts of gold. We lived on a small farm and I grew up with party lines and learned to drive using the hay truck during the summer. Because of the long hours my parents worked, my younger sister and I went to a sitter every summer. A neighbor was hired for the job, which was convenient for my parents, however if they only knew how incredibly miserable I felt going there I would hope they never would have sent me in the first place. The babysitter’s husband was a dirty old man who made sure that he made me as uncomfortable as he could without crossing the line. Their oldest grandson, however, didn’t share the same “line” as his grandfather. All it took was the one time, the one inappropriate touching from him, to start the scars I would be holding onto from that point forward. I had no idea those moments would affect the rest of my life. After hearing the babysitters husband committed suicide many years later, my heart raced even just thinking about what happened in that house so many years prior.
I began dating my high school sweetheart at the age of fifteen. He was seventeen. Five years after we began dating, we said “I do.” He began working his way up the career ladder and I enrolled at OTC for my Associates degree. We really were not in any hurry to have children; we enjoyed the life we were building for ourselves. After I graduated from OTC, I began working for a local bank. After five years of marriage, in 2004, we welcomed our daughter Madison. Because of what happened to me at my sitter’s house years before, we had already agreed that I would stay home with our children, to safeguard them from the same fate. I remember looking at her, then looking at my husband, and each of us saying, “If we had known it would be like this, we would have had children much sooner.” I loved being a stay-at-home mom at first. It was the one thing I believed I was made to do...for awhile, at least. I can’t remember exactly when my attitude began to change, but after moving to Oklahoma for my husband’s job, an overwhelming sense of depression began to overtake me. I was stuck in a city where I had no family, no friends, and my husband worked long hours. I isolated myself. There were times when I questioned what my life had become. I was never satisfied and never was truly happy.
Because of my misery, his job brought us back close to our hometown, where I could be around the people who meant the most to me. I hoped that would help me to feel better. We bought our dream home, my husband was working a great job, and we welcomed another child, Kassidy, in 2006. I literally had everything I could have ever wanted but I still was not happy. Then, again - life took a sharp turn.
After twelve years of marriage in 2010, my husband decided we needed time apart. After a short separation period, he asked for a divorce. Shortly after, he moved out of state and took a better job. All the dreams, all the goals, all the plans we had made together…vanished. I was angry. I was sad. And even more so for our girls. In a single day, I went from being a full-time stay-at-home mom, living a comfortable life and doing my best to raise my daughters, being a wife and taking care of our home - to being a full-time single mom, whose future was uncertain. I had no idea what I was going to do or how I was going to even survive a life that had been so fully engrained with another soul.
I allowed myself a full year before I started dating, but quickly I saw that it took very little on my part to get attention from men. I was in such a vulnerable state, it became almost an obsession to validate myself with the attention of virtually any man who noticed me. I craved it. And though I loved the high of giving myself to men, it left me consistently wallowing in shame, guilt and worthlessness. The type that doesn’t slip away in the middle of the night like so many of the men did. My heart longed for something more: it was broken. I was broken. Inside I knew I was meant for more … I just had to figure out what that was. And I needed to figure that out for me...no one else, just me.
As a single mom, I wanted to reach out and find others who could perhaps bring me to a place I knew in my heart I wanted and needed to be, and I knew others were in the same boat I was. SingleMomzRock was born from my own need, which I thought would consist of hosting a bible study in my house. That little bible study became much, much more. Today, we host blog posts from national writers who have something to share with our single-parent community, which numbers in the thousands. We’ve been able to help countless families with essentials like food or shoes, coats and pajamas at Christmas for each of their children. We give moms a special night each year on Valentines Day where they know they are loved, valued and seen. We were even able to gift to a mom a car; a necessity that so many of us take for granted. We also offer hope and empowerment through this season of their life and encouragement to keep going even when they want to give up.
For the rest of the article please go here.
We have Captain Springfiled!
The following is an article from the Springfield News-Leader click here for original posting.
Now it feels official: Cape presented to Captain Springfield winner
Stephen Herzog, Springfield News-Leader Published 1:21 p.m. CT Aug. 21, 2018
After three years, a Springfield superhero is finally getting a proper uniform.
The Captain Springfield bracket, an annual online contest put on by the News-Leader, was recently won by Janelle Reed, the outreach and special events manager for Victory Mission, which primarily serves the local homeless community.
Reed won the contest in July, but received the cape last week.
"The cape was like icing on the cake after winning the title of Captain Springfield, and to be honest, not something I was expecting," Reed said.
The cape, which resembles the new (unofficial) Springfield flag design, was imagined and commissioned by Springfield entrepreneur John McQueary, who developed the Hotel Vandivort.
"I saw the third annual contest begin, and I thought 'As our new local superhero, Captain Springfield needs a cape,'" he said. "The new Springfield flag imagery seemed like the perfect fit."
Unofficial but mighty: Unofficial city flag gains ground among downtown businesses
McQueary presented it to Reed at Victory Square, which is the men's shelter for Victory Mission.
Janelle Reed, the outreach and special events manager for Victory Mission, is presented a Captain Springfield cape by (from left) Jeff Houghton, Joel Thomas, John McQueary and Sean Brownfield. (Photo: Nathan Papes/News-Leader)
"It was such an honor to have my Victory Mission team there and also for us to get to show the (Springfield) flag committee around Victory Square," Reed said. "Some didn't even realize we have this in Springfield."
Reed said she hopes to use her year as Captain Springfield to spread the word about local nonprofits and the people working hard behind the scenes.
"I didn't win Captain Springfield because people know who I am or because I'm a local celebrity," she said. "I won because I have a lot of people I work hard for day in and day out to make sure they have a voice."
She can spread the word about nonprofits through use of the Captain Springfield Twitter account, which was previously the only prize bestowed to the winner. From now on, winners will also receive the cape.
Past winners include Matt Simpson and Crystal Quade.
McQueary said the plan is to put the name and year of each winner on the cape, like the NHL does for the Stanley Cup.
"It is truly a piece of art and so stunning," Reed said, though she was worried that the cape makers didn't consider how short she is.
"But it doesn't touch the ground," she said, "So we're OK."
SingleMomzRock takes on the Missouri Capitol!
On March 7, 2017 something happened that I never would have imagined for myself or for SingleMomzRock. I stepped foot in the Missouri State Capitol building and was among a group of single mom’s that was honored to testify on behalf of the “CLIFF” bill that is trying to get passed in our House of Representatives.
On the drive from Springfield to Jefferson City, we mostly talked about what we were expecting for the afternoon hearing with none of us ever having been a part of something like this. We were nervous, excited and a bit intimidated. Would the Representatives we were talking to be kind to us? Would they be asking us questions? What were we supposed to say exactly when it was our turn to talk?
We all knew about the term “Cliff Effect.” For those that do not, it means when a small hike in wages leads to a loss of government assistance and you end up making less than if you would have not taken the wage increase. We talked about this a lot and who had experienced this. Each story is different but every one of these women did NOT want to live off of assistance when they had to. They wanted to work, and get paid for the work they were doing. They wanted to take the raises they were given. But they also knew what that would mean for them if they did. Sometimes to the degree of losing everything they had.
I know some of you won’t understand what this means. I wish more people didn’t have to understand what it is. What it means to have to choose between working and paying for childcare. What it means to choose to better yourself even if that means you won’t be making ends meet for quite some time. Right now, the way the system works it does not make it pay to actually work harder. It actually incentives you if you don’t work.
Six of us were able to tell part of our stories and why we are in favor of the “CLIFF” bill. The Representatives listened to us. They asked questions even; good questions. They emphasized with us. They really saw us. And that’s all we really wanted. To be seen. To be heard. To be listened to.
The conversations on the way home that night were a little different than coming. We talked about how we each can make a difference. How empowering it felt to be a bigger part of change and how we were so glad we had each other to experience it all with.
Thank you to Rep. Crystal Quade for making this happen and for working with our moms. For seeing us. For hearing us. For listening to us.
By Janelle Reed.
Working, single mom receives car donation
A few months ago, Nikki Underwood's 11-year-old daughter Kyra became very ill and needed to see the pediatrician. But Underwood — a single, working mom who is also a full-time student — hasn't owned a vehicle in more than 10 years.
She helped Kyra onto a city bus for the two-hour trip across town.
"She was so sick," Underwood recalled. "She threw up several times on the bus."
Underwood shared the story with the News-Leader while sitting in the driver's seat of a new-to-her 2005 Chevy Malibu. She had just been given the keys and was overwhelmed at times with emotion.
No more two-hour bus rides.
"It's going to be a blessing," she said of the car, which had been gifted by friends Sandy and Rodney Nance and repaired at no cost by Friendly Ford in Springfield.
Rodney Nance drove Underwood to the dealership Thursday morning to pick up the car. He and his wife have known Underwood for about six years. Their daughters are friends, he explained.
"She needed a car. We saw her life and how busy she was and all she did," he said. "We thought it would help make her life easier."
The car had been inoperable and sitting in Nance's driveway for some time. Rodney Nance said someone suggested he reach out to SingleMomzRock, a support group for single moms, to see if there were any resources available to repair the car.
SingleMomzRock's founder Janelle Reed was happy to help. Reed called Friendly Ford service manager Joel Westerfield, knowing the dealership had supported SingleMomzRock in the past.
"The car needed a little bit of work," Reed said. "Friendly Ford was generous enough to do the work and provide the labor."
Reed, who was also there Thursday morning when Underwood was given the keys, said connecting single moms with resources is part of her group's mission.
"We are super excited that she doesn't have to use the bus anymore," Reed said.
Westerfield said the car had to be towed to Friendly Ford. Repair and maintenance work included a new subframe, steering gear, brakes, wiper blades, new wheel covers, oil change and detailing. Westerfield figured the total value of the work and parts was about $1,200 — but free for Underwood.
Folks from radio station 88.3 The Wind were also there to greet Underwood, surprising her with balloons, snacks and a box of CDs to listen to in the vehicle.
Underwood began to cry when she walked in the doors and saw a crowd waiting for her.
Between getting her daughter to school and activities, getting to her job at Walmart and to school at Ozarks Technical Community College, Underwood guessed she spent at least 10 hours every week riding a bus.
With the vehicle, she said she'll be able to do volunteer work and her daughter can participate in sports.
Underwood graduates in May with an associate's degree. She said she'd like to transfer to Drury University, but Missouri State University might be a more affordable option. She plans to pursue a master's degree is social work with a minor in psychology.
When asked what sort of work she'd like to pursue, Underwood smiled.
She wants to find a career that allows her to give back to those in need.
"I know what it's like. I've been there," she said. "There were times I felt like, 'You know what? I'm ready to give up.'
"But God don't put no more on us than we can handle," Underwood continued. "I felt like he didn't want me to give up. He kept putting these people in my path and encouraging me."
"I'm leaning on God to guide me," she said later. "I'm open to whatever he shows me. It's not my plan. It's His plan."
3/16/2017 Article by Jackie Rehwald
For Full Article and Video please click here.
SingleMomzRock partners with Evangel University students on policy regarding the "Cliff Effect".
SingleMomzRock's Founder, Janelle Reed, partners with Central Assembly to co-create Empowered for Life, a pilot program for single moms living in poverty.
SingleMomzRock, a support group for single mothers, and Central Assembly of God in Springfield have teamed up to create a program to help people out of poverty." Empowered for Life," the pilot program, will focus on single mothers in poverty and started this week. Organizers hope to expand the services to men and entire families.
Ten local women were chosen to participate in a series of educational classes and are paired with community mentors to help them develop and implement a personalized action plan to lift them out of poverty.
"It puts people in a position that they can better themselves," said Janelle Reed, founder of Single Momz Rock.
Participants will follow lesson plans and textbooks from the Getting Ahead series by Philip E. Devol. Every week participants will learn about different topics like social classes, causes of poverty, how to build individual and community resources, and create a personal plan to getting out of poverty.
"For example, even just like a small thing for somebody in poverty to be able to communicate with their kids' teachers or principals. That is a big issue for a lot of them," said Anthony Matrone, outreach coordinator at Central Assembly. "They are used to being talked down to. This will give them the confidence to know how to talk."
Central Assembly paid for the textbooks and is providing childcare and dinner for the participants. The program is modeled after the Circles program in Joplin, which Reed said has proven to be successful. Circles was launched in 2012 and according to UnitedWayMokan.org, the program "creates a framework for people to build intentional relationships across class and race lines with the goal of ending poverty."
Want to help?
Empowered for Life needs women to serve as mentors — or allies — for the participants. Because the pilot program is focusing on single mothers, Reed said she hopes to find middle or upper class moms who might have struggled with poverty issues in the past. Mentors will touch base with the participants on a weekly basis for at least a year.
"It's not about (the mentors) paying for things or providing for them. It's about helping them provide for themselves," Reed said.
To see the full article please visit here.
Waiting on God
As a single parent, we go through many different seasons during our journey. Some seasons of mountain top highs, others of devastating lows, but mostly of expectantly waiting. I feel these are some of the most challenging times of being a single parent; waiting through the storms.
What exactly are you waiting for? The next paycheck so you can pay rent or maybe you are waiting for the next blind date to work out so you can finally be in a relationship, what about for the kids to be out of the house. Most importantly, are you waiting on God?
If you are anything like me, you tend to get caught up in the waiting period that half of the time you don’t even remember what you are waiting for. During the last four years of my life I have waited a lot, for many different things, and to be honest I am still waiting. I have finally come to the point where I am seeking His will for my life; everything else after that is just a bonus.
When God laid this ministry, SingleMomzRock, on my heart I was in a season of waiting. I realize that certain things have happened so I can give my full attention to building this ministry the way God needs it to be. God has called me to serve in my waiting season. Do I know how long I will be single…no. So I am going to give it all I have.
We all are going to go through many seasons, even many seasons of waiting. But what you do during those seasons of waiting is what God is trying to build; faith and hope in Him. Give thanks to Him even in those devastating lows you will go through and be content right where He has placed you for such a time as this. Psalms 62:5 says “Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him.”
God will see you through those waiting seasons. He continues to do so with me. See what happens when you recklessly abandon your plans and follow only His. You never know, they may be far greater than you would have ever imagined for yourself.
This article was featured on The Life of a Single Mom Ministries website on March 2, 2015.
By Janelle Reed.
- Our founder, Janelle Reed, was honored to be a part of the 2nd Edition copy of "Overwhelmed: The Life of a Single Mom" by Jennifer Barnes Maggio-The Life of a Single Mom Ministries. If you have yet to read her story, please order this today! It will give you hope when you feel hopeless!
Janelle was featured in this unique e-book that has 50 ideas, activities, games, recipes, and more for revolutionizing your family table time! Get yours at http://www.arabahjoy.com/.
Janelle was featured in this unique e-book that has 50 ideas, activities, games, recipes, and more for revolutionizing your family table time! To grab yours go to http://www.arabahjoy.com/.