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Manhattan Beach Mother Gives Back with 'Single Mom Project'

May 09, 2021 09:12AM ● By Jeanne Fratello

Janet Jones at the Richstone Center with recipients of a Single Mom Project award. The woman in black nominated her mother and sister, who were both honored. (All photos courtesy of Richstone Center and Janet Jones.)

A Manhattan Beach woman who raised two boys as a single mom is now giving back through her family's nonprofit "Single Mom Project" to other mothers who need a helping hand.

Over the past weekend, in honor of Mother's Day, Janet Jones handed out $6,500 to 13 local single mothers, through a unique partnership with the Richstone Family Center.

Jones raised her two now-grown sons, Evan (age 31) and Carter (age 28), as a single mom in Manhattan Beach. She relied greatly on the help of others, and later decided to give back to help others in the same situation.

Last year, she and her sons founded the Single Mom Project, which gives cash grants to low-income, hard-working single mothers whose families are clients at Richstone.

“As a single mom myself, I often felt overwhelmed because it’s just plain hard to make ends meet day in and day out," Jones told DigMB.  "That’s why it feels so good to give the honorees at Richstone a financial boost from the Single Mom Project.  It gives them the confidence they need to keep moving forward and be the best parents they can possibly be for their kids.”

$12,000 Given Out Since December

Jones had gone through her own struggles as a single mother, and was grateful to receive as much support as she did from her Tree Section neighbors and community members.

(Jones is known in the neighborhood for her prolific lemon tree, which she bought with her boys one year on Mother's Day as part of a lesson on how they were going to "make lemonade out of lemons." She recently invited a local Cub Scout troop to pick the lemons for a food donation project.)

A pivotal moment in Jones' life came a few years ago when a good friend sent her a Mother’s Day card and tucked a $5000 check inside. 

"He was dying of cancer and wrote that he wanted my sons and me to thrive," said Jones. "He died shortly thereafter, but we’re now paying Matt’s gesture forward."

The Richstone Family Center was a natural partner for Jones and her sons in their efforts. The Richstone Family Center is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in Hawthorne that’s dedicated to preventing and treating child abuse and trauma; strengthening and educating families; and eliminating violence in families, schools and communities. Over the past 14 years, the Jones family had coordinated a variety of events for Richstone, from a Back-to-School Barbecue to Free Haircut Days to Free Family Portrait Days.

Just before Thanksgiving last year, the Joneses created the Single Mom Project at Richstone to give much-needed assistance to local struggling mothers.

Richstone clients (both mothers and children) were encouraged to submit nomination forms to the Single Mom Project that described what their needs might be -- whether it was paying rent, buying shoes for their children, or taking ESL classes. 

All of the moms who were nominated received a $500 award. The award checks were then deposited into an account at Richstone designed to track expenditures and ensure that each contribution is wisely spent.

For that first series of awards, in December 2020, Jones and her sons were able to give away $5,500 to 11 single moms. (Along with Saturday's Mother's Day awards, the Single Mom Project has now given away $12,000.)

Jones said that the award fund has been bolstered by contributions from friends. "We’ve been awed by those who instantly believed in what we were doing," she said.

A Day of Joy as Awards are Announced

The excitement about Saturday's award ceremony was building even before the event. 

"Some of the [youth] clients I see were SO excited to nominate their struggling moms and it totally makes my heart drop to see their need," a Richstone counselor wrote in a letter to Jones. "But at the same time, I am so thankful to be able to connect them with this link that brings about some hope in such times."

Saturday was a day of joy for the award recipients, some of whom did not even know they would be receiving an award.

"It was a magnificent morning...filled with tears and pure joy for everyone there," said Jones. "One mom told me, 'I want to spend the money on food for my kids. They’ve been hungry for a long time now.'"

Jones added, "The moms live only three miles from Manhattan Beach, and their lives are so dramatically different from ours."

Jones and her sons are continuing to raise funds, and aim to repeat the gift-giving event at Thanksgiving and at Mother's Day each year.

For those who wish to contribute, tax-deductible donations can be made to the Single Family Project here.

Checks (made out to “Richstone Family Center – Single Mom Project”) can be sent to:
Richstone Family Center
Attn:  Accounting
13634 Cordary Ave.
Hawthorne, CA 90250

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