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Manhattan Beach Mom's 'Single Mom Project' Reaches $20K in Grants Given

Nov 22, 2021 09:58AM ● By Jeanne Fratello

Janet Jones of the Single Mom Project with her son Carter and his girlfriend.

The Single Mom Project, founded by Manhattan Beach's Janet Jones, granted 17 local single mothers $500 each last weekend, bringing her nonprofit's total gifts to more than $20,000 in just a year.

Jones, who raised two boys as a single mother, created the Single Mom Project in 2020 with her (now grown) sons. The Single Mom Project has partnered with the Richstone Family Center to give cash grants to low-income, hard-working single mothers whose families are clients at Richstone.

The Single Mom Project's grant-giving efforts began last December, when Jones and her sons gave away a total of $5,500 to 11 single moms. On Mother's Day, the group gave a total of $6,500 to 13 local single mothers.

Last weekend's presentation, to 17 single mothers, was the nonprofit's largest to date.

“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.”

The ceremony was both moving and rewarding, said Jones. "As you might expect, there were tears of joy and shouts of amazement from our honorees whose stories of survival are harrowing…and awe inspiring."

One change in last weekend's ceremony was Jones spending more time talking personally with each family. She was prompted to do this, she said, by one of the previous grant recipients. That grant recipient told Richstone that Jones's words (about staying strong as a single mother) meant even more to her than the money.

"That told me we needed to do things differently this time," said Jones, who made a point to sit down and spend more time with each family one-on-one at the ceremony.

Jones added that this year the group also gifted each mother with a succulent plant arrangement. "I told them that succulents are sturdy, but they require care - just as you do as a single mom," she said.

Although her older son had to work on the day of the presentation, her younger son Carter, age 29, was in attendance. Carter just ran the L.A. Marathon (his first ever) on Nov. 7 and raised funds for the Single Mom Project from his friends and co-workers as his cause.

Partnership with Richstone 

Jones had gone through her own struggles as a single mother, and was grateful to receive support from her Tree Section neighbors and community members when her boys were young.

(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." Earlier this year, she 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.

For the Single Mom Project, Richstone staff and clients (both mothers and children) are encouraged to submit nomination forms that describe what the mother's needs might be -- whether it is paying rent, buying shoes for their children, or taking ESL classes. 

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

Jones learned that one of the previous grant recipients had received permission to use her $500 to buy her child a single bed. The client said that Child Protective Services had said they would take her child away if she could not provide a bed.

"The Single Family Project helped keep that family intact," said Jones. "Even though $500 may not seem like a lot to some of us in the Beach Cities, that amount can literally keep a family together."

Donations can be made to the Single Mom Project here.

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