Even when Sarah Neault was pregnant, she knew she was going to need extra support being a single mom.
The Aldergrove resident feels fortunate to have discovered the YWCA's single mothers' support services even though it meant making a trip all the way into Vancouver to take part in a program.
But now single moms living in Abbotsford and Aldergrove will be able to access a YWCA single moms support group locally through Abbotsford Community Services or Aldergrove Neighbourhood Services.
"It's fantastic," Neault said of the program she refers to as her "lifeline."
Neault, whose son Solomon is six months old, said the YWCA program contributes to her wellbeing and that of her son.
"Right from the beginning it helped to be in a room full of women with babies of various ages," said Neault.
"They were able to answer questions about things I was anxious about, and help me through the pregnancy and when Solomon was born."
Neault is thrilled to hear of the program's expansion into Abbotsford and Aldergrove.
It means more single mothers can access the support they need locally to get the confidence, knowledge and tools to seek employment, go back to school, find safe affordable housing and child care or access other community services.
The goal of the YWCA single moms support program is to help women parenting alone achieve personal and economic independence.
The program is also expanding into Surrey, Port Coquitlam and Maple Ridge due to $450,000 in new funding, thanks to the commitment of three female credit union CEOs, said Janet Austin, YWCA Metro Vancouver CEO.
Coast Capital's Tracy Redies, Vancity's Tamara Vrooman and First West's Launi Skinner pooled resources to provide more services for single mothers in Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley, said Austin. Each credit union is contributing $50,000 annually for a three-year period.
Moms participating in the extended program will meet weekly with a trained facilitator while their children are cared for at their community organizations.
Research prior to the program expansion suggests about 12 per cent of families in Abbotsford are headed by single mothers, most living in the city centre. Neault said mothers in the group decide on the things they'd like to work on or learn about, such as finances or budgeting. The moms in her group asked for a photographer to come on Valentine's Day to take photographs of them with their children.
"It's hard as a single mom to get good pictures of you and your child," said Neault.
But the most valuable thing Neault has taken from the group is unconditional support from the other mothers.
"We deal with the things we're facing as single moms collectively," she said.
"I've made lifelong friends and our kids are going to grow up together."
? For more information visit www.ywcavan.org/ singlemothers or phone 604-895-5849.
- Rochelle Baker is a reporter with the Abbotsford-Mission Times.