1,300 Meals given away to single parents in Dothan
DOTHAN, Ala. (Press Release) – More than 1,300 meals were distributed to single-parent households in Dothan on Saturday, August 21, during the kickoff of an inaugural multi-state initiative aimed at assisting families in five cities and Washington, D.C.
The Ben Crump SPINN Feeding Initiative (BCFI), an effort by renowned Civil Rights Attorney Ben Crump of the Ben Crump Law Firm and Dothan native Vanessa Riley Harris, Founder and Executive Director of Single Parents in Need Nationally (SPINN), supports single-parent households across five states and one territory. The initiative partnered with Dothan Housing on Saturday at the Our Community Housing and Enrichment Center on Montana Street to distribute groceries. Several volunteers, led by local volunteer Mary Hayes, provided groceries to families as they drove up to receive the bags. Several ACOM students were also there to provide resources regarding the coronavirus pandemic.
Remaining bags of groceries were distributed to families in McRae Homes.
There are plans for similar stops in Houston, Tampa, New York City, and Washington, D.C. before completing in Atlanta in January.
According to census and foundation data, single-parent households make up around 30% of each metropolitan area that BCFI intends to serve. The initiative’s goal is to meet the food security needs of at least 10% of the single-parent households in each of these communities. The Annie E. Casey Foundation Kids Count Data Center reports that nearly a quarter of children living in the United States are raised by only one parent. Historically, most of these households are headed by single mothers.
“There are so many mothers and fathers out there who have to be both parents to their children. It is my pleasure and honor to partner with Single Parents in Need Nationally to help provide nutritional meals for these families in these uncertain times. The reason is because it is all too familiar to me growing up as an eldest son to a single mother, knowing how hard she had to struggle...,” stated Crump.
“I was raised in a household with my grandmother while my mother worked a day and night shift job to help feed us. I believe that as long as any of us are able, we should commit to assisting others. No child should be hungry.”
Dothan Housing Authority Chief Executive Officer Sam Crawford said it made sense that Dothan’s housing and enrichment center was the site for the local event.
“Because we understand our ‘why,’ this partnership reflects the Dothan Housing commitment to community and belief that we should be in service to the least of us,” Crawford stated.
Harris, a decorated Air Force Veteran who founded SPINN in Dothan after navigating single-parent resources as a mother of three after the death of her husband, stated partnering with Crump and other local organizations is more than necessary in the Wiregrass area after the strains brought on by the COVID pandemic.
“We know that when children are fed and they’re happy, they do much better in school and the communities thrive as well. We saw all over the world that people were hurting, losing jobs, closing businesses or struggling to stay open due to the pandemic. We wanted to sit down and come up with a plan to help them,” Harris stated.
“This mission was very close to the heart of my daughter, Alecia Racquel Hicks, who passed away March 18. We’re thankful Mr. Crump believed in our mission and worked with us to bring this vision to life for so many single parents all over the country.”
Joannie Gutzmore, a recipient and volunteer who attended Saturday’s event, said the initiative was indeed a blessing. Gutzmore said she became a single parent of six after the death of her husband.
“A lot of times, programs that assist families forget about the single parents who are among the working poor. We may have nice cars or live in a nice neighborhood, but many times single mothers and single fathers are living from paycheck to paycheck,” she said.
“I appreciate SPINN because it was there at a time when I didn’t even process that I was a single parent after the death of my husband. Vanessa being there is a reason I volunteer with the organization today.”
Lakisha Jones, a single mother who recently obtained guardianship of six additional children after the death of her cousin, also expressed gratitude for initiatives that assist single parents. Jones said her family is currently in a two-bedroom home figuring how to adjust resources to expand.
“I believe God connected us to SPINN because this is the same work that I do at my church. To have to accept help is humbling, but for help to be there, is a blessing. It’s been rough, but God is making a way.”
More information regarding the Ben Crump SPINN Feeding Initiative is available at spinnhelps.org.