13 May

Making This Dream A Reality One Day at a Time.

It has been a while since my last post and I realize I have been slacking when it comes to this whole blog thing, but let me reassure you all that there are great reasons why.When we started Single Moms Fresh Start 2 and a half years ago I had a vision of what this could be and how far it could go. I was so determined to see that vision become a reality and although we have come so far in 2 and half years I have gotten quite discouraged many times along the way.See I am very impatient and impulsive and when things don’t move quickly enough for me I begin to think that it will never happen and that gives me a bit of a set back. I begin to wonder if it will ever happen and I lose my drive and motivation to continue.This winter was the worst of it for me I think. I was trying to register Single Moms Fresh Start as a recognized not for profit in the province of Ontario. I was taking all the right steps to do so but there was so much that I still did not know about running this type of organization. I finally submitted all the paper work necessary and waited for a response.March 31, 2015 we finally got our registration in the mail and boy did that kick my drive and motivation in to gear 10 fold. Looking at that piece of paper was like seeing that light bulb in my head light up to the brightest it could possibly be. It was time to use this to its ability and get the ball rolling on turning my dream into a reality.Being on the news and joining the panel on The Agenda was a great step for me but having a registration made this a reality. I began to look for connections to assist with the moms I have been helping. I went on a search for a family lawyer that could assist with legal advice and even posting some blog posts for educational purposes for our readers and clients of SMFS because I found that a lot of the questions I get are surrounding custody and support and although I have a ton of experience I am no lawyer and therefore can not provide concrete legal advice. I found a wonderful young woman in Toronto who was willing to meet with me and discuss some opportunities to work with our organization. When we met she was very willing to assist our clients who reside in the GTA and was happy to provide anyone with a free 30 min consultation for legal advice. As most know the legal aspects of a separation involving kids might be the most tedious. Its so overwhelming to create a custody and support order and no one knows where to start or how to go about doing it. Most don’t want to bother because it seems to be too much work and headaches along the way. For everyone who comes to me looking for support and wanting to take advantage of our services my first form of advice to them is to always have a custody order in place. It is the safest thing to have to protect yourself and your children. It also allows a fair access agreement for the other party to see their children and be involved in their children’s lives if they are willing to cooperate. That part is easy if both parties want the same thing, which would always be in the best interest of the children. It is when there is a disagreement that things get messy and that is where our lawyer, Melissa Stamkos of Garffin Zeidenberg LLP will come in. I know 30 minutes may not sound like a lot but when you are at a loss with your legal custody and support order and how to go about taking the next step into legal actions those 30 minutes could be just the relief you need during that extremely stressful time. If anyone in the GTA is in need of legal advice please email me at info@singlemomsfreshstart.org and I can pass along Melissa’s information for you.We have also teamed up with a dental clinic in Toronto. Sarah and Josh Resnick run their own practice and Sarah reached out to me one day wanting to give back to Single Moms Fresh Start the best way she could. She spoke with her husband Josh who is a Dentist and they both agreed to provide free cleanings and emergency dental work to our clients that are in need. So far I have been able to send 4 clients to them and they have been nothing but wonderful in assisting with their needs at no charge. There are some beautiful and selfless people in this world and only while starting this organization had I realized how many there are out there wanting to help.Currently I have been trying to register the organization as a charity and that way we can begin to apply for government funded grants to start up an office and begin parenting seminars. We have successfully built a board of directions and on the board are a group of wonderful single mothers that can bring forth both their knowledge and education to better this organization and assist in building it from the ground up.I have been able to educate myself further on grant writing so that I can begin to write and apply for grants that are offered here in Ontario for Not for Profits like ours. In the near future we are planning to open an office in the GTA and begin to provide services that are being requested from all our wonderful followers and clients. We want to be able to facilitate seminars that can benefit all single parents and assist in eliminating depression, isolation, and poverty among single parent households. We want to build up our clients and make sure they are the most confident and strongest members of society. With an office we can provide those seminars and have a separate room for child minding so that each parent can feel comfortable attending the seminars knowing their children are at arms length away if they are needed. We want to provide services such as counselling, resume building, education courses on applications for jobs, second career education, university or college and of course continue to provide donations such as clothing, furniture and diapers. We want to give single mothers a chance to start over. After all we are all just looking for a fresh start. We want to have babysitting clubs, social events that single parents can attend with child minding provided, dinners, fundraising events, the list goes on and the possibilities are endless we just need to continue to receive the support of all of you and carry this dream to the very end one day at a time.If you are in need of any support please don’t hesitate to contact me at info@singlemomsfreshstart.org. Check out our website www.singlemomsfreshstart.org. Like our Facebook page www.facebook.com/SingleMomsFreshStart, and please keep reading our blogs.We will continue to update everyone as we continue to grow and flourish making this the best organization for single mothers in and around the Greater Toronto Area.

11 Feb

Anxiety in Children. What Does It Look Like?

This blog topic is very close to my heart and is the first time I am going public with my sons recent diagnosis.Children under the age of 5 usually present with generalized anxiety. What does that look like? Usually it presents when a child may be separated from their parents, the tantrums that are more on an extreme level are children displaying emotion that they are not aware of and displaying it in the form of anxiety. When a child develops more cognitively they begin to specify their anxiety. Around the age of 7-9 is when you can see that the anxiety branches off and becomes more specific such as Obsessive Compulsive Behaviour which is a mental illness directly related to anxiety.Over the course of the last year I had notice that Ben became consistant on some of his routines and that things needed to be in certain places. At the start of the school year he began a “ritual” of saying he put something in his mouth and asking if it was ok, I had to answer with “yes, its ok” or he would become very uncomfortable. This became very persistent and began to affect him at home, at school and at Dads house. It wasn’t until he started to wash his hands so consistently and insistently that I began to question if this behaviour was actually “normal” for a 5 year old. When he asked me if “it was ok” I started to ask him why he is asking that question, his response was this “Because if I don’t ask I am scared that I am going to die.” This response never changed. Now, if there wasn’t a fear attached to these questions than I would not have questioned this behaviour but because the fear was so excessive I had to talk to someone.Being in the helping field with a few psychology courses under my belt I realized that my 5 year old was presenting quite clearly with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I spoke to his paediatrician who thought it may be a good idea to seek some assistance on the psychology side of things.I went for a walk in session at ROCK which is a resource centre for children in Halton. They immediately set up an intake with a child psychologist and with in weeks of our first meeting Ben was in fact diagnosed with OCD as well as an accompanied tick disorder.I realize that some parents out there may feel as though I am “labelling” my child but a 5 year old being scared of dying from a simple toy entering his mouth is quite serious in my opinion and if the help is available for him to work past this and get a hold of it why would I not seek the proper assistance that he needs.We are about to begin cognitive behaviour therapy with him, although he may not take to it completely without being fully cognitively developed yet we are going to attempt to do what we can with this form of treatment. It is extremely rare for a 5 year old to present so clearly with OCD and not just generalized anxiety so the treatment that is available for children with OCD is usually at a higher cognitive level.I will write another post with our progress and what Cognitive Behaviour Therapy looks like.If any moms out there have any questions about their children behaviour or anxiety please feel free to leave a note or you can email us at info@singlemomsfreshstart.org. I would be happy to answer any questions or concerns you may have and point you in the right direction.

01 Dec

The Book

I love to write, you can probably tell by the long drawn out blogs that I post on occasion. My brain always has so much to say and the words are sent to my finger tips. I have written poetry as a dark, sad teenager but when I saw a brighter light in my early 20s I stopped writing.I have been told that I have exceptional writing skills (no to toot my own horn) but my grammer could definitely use some tweaking. I should just hire an editor full time! I once had a psychic tell me that I would one day write a best seller if I sat and concentrated on writing.As far back as I could remember I have always dreamed of writing. My dad wrote pages and pages of poetry and it was always so inspirational to me. Writing is a passion and that is why Single Moms Fresh Start started as a blog. So we can share experiences and stories through our writing.We started Single Moms Fresh Start almost 2 years ago, December 21st 2012 to be exact, and I have learned so much in those two years. Probably more then I have in my entire life time. I have heard stories, some very similar to one another and others that could make your jaw drop. All about single parenting and the experiences, the joy, the pain, the heartache, the worry, and the unconditional love that comes along with it. I have a lot to say about being a single mother in Ontario, being raised by a Single mother in Ontario and all the support and lack of support that is provided for us throughout our journey as single parents. I think with all my knowledge, experience (personal and outside) and my passion I could write a book for single mothers to relate to, laugh to, cry to and really hold close to their hearts because this book would be so raw, so open, so real, so alive and most importantly every single mother would be able to relate to it. This book would be the “Unofficial Guide to Single Motherhood”. (copyright 2014)I have decided that while I continue to try and open an office here in Toronto and continue to help single mothers in need I will dedicate my time to writing a pretty bad ass book for all us single mothers out there that struggle too much, love too hard and dedicate our entire life to raising another human being. Dedicated to all of you, for all of you!I will keep you all updated as I plow through this next chapter (no pun intended) and would love to publish some of your quotes, stories and bits and pieces of your lives.Each chapter I start I will blog about in hopes to get some people contributing. Because after all this is a book from our group Single Moms Fresh Start and what better way to write then to write for and with all of you!I have already started with an Introduction chapter about my story, who I am and why I woke up one morning and decided I wanted to dedicate my life to helping and supporting single moms.Stay Tuned my SMFS supporters!!!!- Staci

24 Nov

TVOs The Agenda- Child Support/FRO

We have come a long way since 2012. Myself and Victoria has done 2 separate interviews on CBC news in regards to child support and FRO.After those interviews were conducted and aired, I was contacted by TVO to be a part of a panel on The Agenda representing Single Moms Fresh Start. The topic is Child Support and Fro. There will be myself, a single father, a family lawyer and Winnipeg’s CBC producer whom wrote the article on “DeadBeat Dads”.The show is being recorded on Wednesday morning at 11am on November 26th and will be aired that same day at 8pm.I discussed some questions and answers that will be asked of me during the segment and I wanted to share them with you in hopes that some of you will have some in put.1) At what point in a separation do people turn to an organization like yours for support?A: I have worked with single mothers for 2 years now and being one myself I have noticed that typically people begin to reach out when the separation has been finalized either by the courts or by the other party moving out of the shared home.2) Your services seem to be specifically aimed at single mothers, will you or have you helped single fathers? Do yo believe your organization could assist single fathers if they were to come to you for support?A: We are 4 single mothers and that is all we know. Single mothers and single father that do not have full custody experience separation and parenting very differently. We have helped single fathers in the past, mostly those who have sole custody of their children but our website provides resources that are beneficial for anyone experiencing separation and single parenthood. If a single father was in need of assistance we would be more then happy to help them with their needs. Our future goal is to hire a single father willing to help other single fathers that when they are in need of specific services they can relate more to the person helping them. Single fathers may find it difficult to relate to 4 single mothers when searching for specific services.3) Do you notice any improvements over the years with FRO?A: Unfortunately the clients I work with are the ones struggling with FRO and have been for quite some time. I would however like to say that each case worker has hundreds of case files and is likely struggling to attempt to assist with yours especially those who have a payee who are not willing to pay their support or have disappeared. Statistics state that FRO is under staffed and cases continue to pile up. With the payees willing to pay FRO is fast and efficient and as long as all the proper documentation is in place there are no issues when it comes to retrieving those payments, but for those who are not willing to pay their support the process is long and the paper work is tedious. I also want to state that in my line of work I notice that the only person affected by those payees who are not willing to pay support are the children. If a payee does not make those payments they are putting their children in a higher risk of living in poverty.Note: The Single Father on the Panel states: Minister Jasek was impressed by the fact that FRO has started impounding the support payers cars if support is not being paid as a measure to get that support payment. William believes that the measure is harsh because some of the payees are on social assistance and need their car to apply for jobs and so on.My Argument: How can they afford their car on social assistance but can not afford to pay their support? Gas costs a lot of money here in Ontario. If they are looking for a job why haven’t they found one yet? Where did they get the money for the car? And don’t most cities in Ontario have a transit system? Why would someone need a car if they can not afford to pay support? If they can afford to drive a car in Ontario dont you think they can afford to pay their child support?4) If you could make one improvement to FRO what would it be?A: 1) Treat child support like a credit card, if the payments are not made the support should go into a type of collection where it begins to effect the persons credit. After all if they are not paying support what would they need a mortgage, credit card or car loan for? They cant afford support they cant afford the luxuries of having good credit. 2) People working under the table and hiding their income as well as not paying taxes should be investigated and if the recipient can find information through emails or Facebook they should be liable in court. 3) Payee should be mandated to show bank statements and credit ratingsIf you have any comments to this or think that you have an answer you could add to this please share it with me by commenting on this blog post or on our Facebook page. Please add the question number to your response and how you would answer it differently. TUNE IN on Wednesday November 26th, 2014 at 8pm on TVO’s The Agenda. I will be participating in a Twitter chat after the show airs where everyone can discuss their opinions on this topic so if you are a twitter user look out for the chat link on or after the show!!!Staci

05 Oct

OUR WEBSITE WENT LIVE!!!!

So, for the past 2 years we have had a vision of how we wanted our website to look. We went to a graphic designer to get it all done up but turned out he was too expensive for our very empty pockets.
We then turned to Go Daddy, which is a great start up if you want something small and basic and we definitely were not looking for small and basic. We wanted links to government websites, legal aid, subsidized daycare, housing. We wanted to provide discussion boards for single moms to connect with one another and a “free cycle” where you can post donations you may have for other single mothers in need such as clothing and baby items. Go Daddy could not provide that for us and our year subscription eventually expired.

After our interview on CBC news and Victoria’s live radio interview, we decided that we needed our website back up and running and to revamp it. A lovely woman reached out to my request on a group called Pink and Blue and constructed our new website in 24 hours. It has access to our blog and Facebook page, discussion boards, a “freecycle” for parents to exchange clothing and items they no longer need, links to resources such as government websites, child care subsidy, housing, legal aid and much much more.

We would love for you all to go check out our website and tell us what you think. We are steps closer to our goal of registering Single Moms Fresh Start as a not for profit charity with the Ontario government and to begin to provide many more services to mothers in need in and around the GTA.

www.singlemomsfreshstart.org

Source: Blogger