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Single Mom Project Gives out $50,000 In Grants

May 21, 2024 11:25PM ● By Jeanne Fratello

Single Mom Project co-founder Janet Jones with honorees.

At its biggest event yet, the Manhattan Beach-based Single Mom Project on Saturday gave out $1,000 grants to 50 women who have been receiving services at the Richstone Family Center.

The Single Mom Project aims to help low-income, hardworking mothers from nearby communities like Hawthorne, Lawndale, Inglewood and Compton get on steadier financial footing.

Saturday's event was "the biggest, best and happiest in the four years since my sons and I launched our nonprofit in 2020," co-founder and Manhattan Beach resident Janet Jones told MB News. "We couldn't have had a more successful day, one that will give much-needed confidence and hope to our 50 recipients. That's what the Single Mom Project is all about."

The event took place in Hawthorne at the Richstone Family Center, which provides crucial services such as counseling and after school programs to families impacted by domestic abuse.  At the event, honorees and their children were treated to breakfast from Dunkin', family portraits by photographer Ed Mcclure, donated children's books from {pages} a bookstore and the Hermosa Beach Friends of the Library, and a performance by bilingual singer/guitarist Nathalia.

Manhattan Beach Mayor Joe Franklin, a longtime friend of the Jones family, also gave a greeting to the attendees in Spanish. 

The $1,000 grants will cover rent, car repairs, overdue bills and food for those families who are struggling with food insecurity, according to Jones. 

"Probably the most touching moment of the event came when I told an honoree she was being given $1,000 from the Single Mom Project, and she immediately broke down crying," said Jones. "She explained that she had just started living in a shelter and hoped the money might help her get out."

Single Mom Project Began in 2020

Jones, who raised two boys as a single mother in Manhattan Beach, created the Single Mom Project in 2020 with her (now grown) sons Evan and Carter. Prior to founding the Single Mom Project, 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, so the center was a natural partner for their efforts.

The Single Mom Project's grant-giving efforts began in December 2020, when Jones and her sons gave away a total of $5,500 to 11 single moms. Inspired by the success of that first event, on Mother's Day 2021, the group gave a total of $6,500 to 13 local single mothers. As the group's momentum grew, the grants kept on coming:  On Thanksgiving 2021, the group granted granted 17 local single mothers $500 each; in 2022, the group hosted a "Confidence Day" for moms that included massages and other spa treatments, and later held a different celebration in which they gave out $500 grants to 17 mothers. 

In 2023, the Single Mom Project partnered with Leadership Manhattan Beach to transform the food pantry at the Richstone Center.

Donations Keep Families Intact

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." In 2020, 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 $5,000 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 mothers from the Richstone Center have expressed to Jones how meaningful the grants are in their lives.

For example, Jones learned that one of the previous grant recipients had received permission to use her $500 grant 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."

The Single Mom Project welcomes support from family foundations, individuals and companies that aim to help improve the lives of local low-income families. Donations can be made to the Single Mom Project here.

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