Single mom blogger gives cash to moms for their professional, community, or personal goals
Jennifer Little has had a love for reading since she was a kid. So when Little became a mom nine years ago, she says reading books to her son, Jamison, was an instant priority.
“I was so excited to buy books for him, and I think I’ve read to him every night since the day he was born,” says 44-year-old Little, a Solo Mom by choice from Frisco, Texas. “He’s in third grade now, and he’s into shark books and books about NBA players.”
Little’s passion for making sure all kids have books to read led the University of Texas at Arlington public relations professor to launch Little Hands Book Bank, her nonprofit organization that collects donated children’s books and gives them to underprivileged students.
“We collect books from schools, moms’ groups, churches, and people in our community,” says Little of the organization she started in 2012 after spending 22 years working in the public relations industry. “We have thousands of books, and our plan is to distribute bags of 12 books each through Head Start programs in the area.”
But Little’s plans just got a whole lot easier. Last month, she was awarded a Kickass Single Mom Grant, a $1,000 gift given by Emma Johnson, the staunch Solo Mom supporter and founder of Wealthy Single Mommy, her five-year-old highly successful blog and podcast aimed at supporting and connecting single moms across the world.
Little, who explains that this was the first time she ever applied for a grant for anything, says she was ecstatic not only because she will use the money to pay for office space and to keep the books in a controlled climate but also because she feels incredibly validated.
“Knowing that someone else finds the concept of collecting books and giving them to people in need valuable is a great feeling. It confirms I did the right thing starting this company,” Little says.
“I look for women who have a clear plan and significant momentum for achieving their goals—whether in their career, community project, family, or personal project,” says Johnson, who explains that she plans to award these grants once a month moving forward. “Also, they have a thoughtful answer to my question, ‘How will you eventually pay this grant forward?’”
Johnson says she has received 1,000 grant applications so far and that the money is coming out of her own personal pocket.
“I’m always looking for ways to serve the single mom community,” says Johnson, who has been a Solo Mom of two for eight years and whose book, The Kickass Single Mom (TarcherPerigee), is set to be released in the fall of 2017. “I really do believe that we are our own worst enemies and we all need support. That might mean a good friend, connecting with other single moms, giving advice, or sharing my stories. But the reality is they need money, too. That’s why I have a philanthropic part of my budget, which this grant is addressing.”
But Johnson says The Kickass Single Mom Grant offers more than just a financial boost: “The bigger value is the platform I have. A podcast, social media, exposure, and media attention. It’s showing women that although every day is hard, you are of value and you are doing great. This isn’t just Jennifer’s story, it’s all of our stories.”
“I love what she’s doing,” says Little. “She’s encouraging single moms . . . if they have a passion or something they are trying to get off the ground, she is going to help them do it.”
When asked about her life as a Solo Mom, Little says the hardest thing for her is that there isn’t an extra set of hands to help.
“You can’t just leave the kid at home and go to the store because there’s no one there. You can’t give him a bath and make dinner at the same time,” Little says. “People say, ‘How do you do it?’ and I say, ‘You don’t have a choice. You just do it. It’s a way of life.’ But my son and I have a bond that is strong because it’s just the two of us. He makes it all worth it.”
“Hearing success stories like Jennifer’s is positive and powerful and motivating, and makes others think, I can do this, too,” says Johnson. “I want people to look at other single moms and think, She doesn’t have wealthy parents or a fancy degree and look what she is doing. I can do it, too!”
Johnson’s book is designed to help moms navigate the challenges of raising a family on one income; enjoy dating and sex in a positive, healthy way; and become the best moms they can. Topics include why moms must focus on earning big, being financially independent of their exes, prioritizing romance, and letting go of any notion that stay-at-home moms are better moms.
Jackie Pilossoph, ESME’s Divorce Resource Guide, is the creator of Divorced Girl Smiling, a website that helps men and women facing divorce. She is also a weekly Huffington Post divorce blogger; the writer of a weekly column, “Love Essentially,” for the Chicago Tribune’s Pioneer Press; and a freelance corporate and business content writer. Pilossoph holds a master’s degree in journalism. She lives in Chicago with her two children. Oh, and she’s divorced.