Supporting Single Families

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Charity Spotlight: This post was provided by Elaine Balsom, Project Coordinator at Single Parent Association of Newfoundland (SPAN), as part of our ongoing charity spotlight series.
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The life of a single parent is challenging.  Although single parent families face similar problems and challenges as dual parent families face, such as affordable housing, employment and affordable child care, their unique challenge stems from the fact single parents must do it all on their own with access to only one income.  We know it’s difficult, but at the Single Parent Association of Newfoundland (SPAN), we’re here to help.

Across the country, 12 percent of Canadian families live in single parent households, and as the only provincial association of our kind in Canada, SPAN is a non-profit registered charity with a mandate to support the needs of single parent families in Newfoundland and Labrador.  To transform our charitable mission into a reality, we offer a wide range of programs and services ranging from information and referral, to money saving supports, peer support, crisis counselling and effective parenting training.  Above all, one of the most exciting and fulfilling programs we offer is our Prom Dreams program, a program making all the difference in the lives of single parents and their teenagers.

Prom Dreams

Every January we put out a call for prom attire donations as part of our Prom Dreams program, and every year, we are amazed by the overwhelming response and abundance of beautiful items we receive in every colour, shape, style and size. We are so lucky to receive an endless amount of dresses, evening bags, shoes, jewellery, ties, tuxedoes, dress shirts, and suits – our office is transformed into a dressing room filled with racks of items from January to June!  When it comes time for our recipients to stop by and make their selection, they can easily walk out with an entire outfit for their special day.

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One unforgettable occasion courtesy of our Prom Dreams program is the time a young lady came to our office to choose her graduation dress — but at the same time, she wasn’t totally sold on the idea of attending her prom and was going only to please her mom.  Once she arrived, she tried on a few dresses but they simply wouldn’t do.  It wasn’t until she tried on one red, strapless dress layered in ruffles from waist to hemline that caused her face to immediately light up.  She was so excited she started to skip up and down the office hallway and told us how comfortable she felt in the gown — she even wanted to wear it home!  Her mom began to cry as her daughter blossomed before her eyes, and at that point, we were all in tears.  The following year, the girl returned her dress to our Prom Dreams program, and it wasn’t long before that dress was selected by another young lady. Even thinking of it now brings a smile to my face.

As the first agency to offer a Prom Dreams program in the province, we are happy to see other agencies in Newfoundland and Labrador follow in our footsteps.  Donated to us from past graduates or bridal salons and similar businesses, our Prom Dreams attire is placed in our Clothing Outlet for clients attending special occasions to wear year-round, following prom and graduation season.  Each and every year we are proud to have teens from single parent or low income families benefit from our program, and as a testament to that, there have been countless moments of both smiles and happy tears in our office.

My Passion and Purpose

As a single parent myself, I am extremely passionate about SPAN and the work we do.  It is only the ability to witness the difference our work is making in the lives of other single parent families that drives my passion even further.  It is very rewarding to act as a stepping stone in the life of a single parent; to be a source of empowerment as they face endless challenges; to make a difference in their lives; to be there when they need support the most; to provide a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on, or a hug.  Our clients often comment how positive our energy feels when they come into our office and meet employees.  They feel welcomed, acknowledged and safe.

As a registered Canadian charity, SPAN does not receive government funding and simply relies on the kindness of donors.  As a donor, you can help ensure the continuation and expansion of this very necessary support for vulnerable families in need.

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To learn more about Single Parent Association of Newfoundland, please visit their Charity Profile Page » 

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